When you are interested in homeschooling and would love some direction! 

We are wrapping up our 3rd year of homeschooling. What a happy thing to celebrate! It calls for some doughnuts and maybe an Anderson family collective cannonball into the pool. 

I really can’t believe we are still living life this way. It’s equal parts crazy and amazing. I really genuinely love it despite it taking some grit here and there. I treasure my time with my kids, and I am so grateful I have the freedoms to teach them at home. 

 

I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me recently about homeschooling, so today I’m sharing a few things that will be helpful if you (or someone you know) is curious about homeschooling and would love to know more. 

Pull up your sleeves and pour some coffee or tea. Let’s dig in.

  1. Start with why.  I promise there is more than enough information you could ever want about how to homeschool and what to teach. What I urge you to do first though is to simply do a brain dump on why you are interested. Do it on paper or type it up. You might surprise yourself with your reasons. I keep my list on my computer and review it each year. It has been immensely valuable.
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       Here are just some ways that your list of reasons can help:

          + guide you in picking out curriculum 

          + help structure your days to reflect values

          + unite you and your spouse in your mission

          + provide peace & resolve when things get tough (and they will)

          + kickstart your confidence 

2.  Check your legal requirements.  A simple Google search will help you navigate these requirements. Some examples of requirements include: compulsory school age, school hours and days needed, documentation specifics, testing or evaluation methods, etc. 

Once you review them, call and ask the appropriate representatives for clarification and assurance you’ve got all your bases covered. You should feel very clear about these legal requirements, so if you don’t, definitely ask. People love to help, so chat around until you’ve got them down.

3. Get acquainted with different types of homeschooling. Now that you are aware of the absolute basic requirements from your state, branch out your understanding of how it all works. Classical. Traditional. Unschooling. Charlotte Mason. Jefferson. Montessori. Eclectic. Waldorf. Heck, maybe you’ll find some I’ve never even heard of. The homeschooling movement is huge and growing all the time. 

You may not (we definitely don’t) fall exactly into one category. You don’t need to. But you should know a little bit about different methods or styles so you know what’s out there. We consider ourselves classical/eclectic homeschoolers. Even then, I’m influenced greatly by Charlotte Mason and teach more that way each year. 

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4. Assess your situation.  

You’ve got a basic idea of how different groups design their homeschool whether it be a boxed curriculum or a Charlotte Mason approach that strictly follows the schedule provided on Ambleside Online. But before you pull the trigger on buying stuff, you’ll want to take one more look at yourself, your kids, and your home. 

    + What is your temperament? 

    + What sort of environment do you thrive in? How about your kids? 

    + What motivates you most? And them? 

    + What sort of set-up would ensure things actually get done? (That one is very important). 

    + What do you anticipate will be some of your greatest challenges? (Creative solutions?)

    + What are your strengths & how could you make those work for you for the best possible outcome? 

    + What are you already doing well, and what is the next thing you need to keep building on that? 

    + Alternatively, what is not going well (either at home or current education setting), and what is the next thing you need in order to amend that? 

    + What kind of space would you like your school area to look like and how would you like it to function? What will it realistically look like? 

    + What kind of money are you working with? Budget time! 

Address each of these thoroughly. With a little research, some creativity and some grit, you can create a vision and execute on it. It’s very important to remember that each home is unique. Someone might just glow and glow about a certain book or program or resource, but if it isn’t a good fit for you and your kids, it probably won’t lift off the ground for you. 

5. Connect with others, read books, and listen to podcasts. 

It’s time to cast your net for great ideas and fantastic stuff. 

Facebook groups abound for homeschoolers and for just about every type of niche you can imagine. You can always visit local homeschool groups in person as well. And chatting with a homeschool mom there or over the phone can be incredibly helpful. I’ve done it & highly recommend it. They will help you connect with local resources and programs, give helpful tips you didn’t even know you needed, and happily answer any questions you’ve got. I promise. 

Some helpful podcasts: Wild + Free, Schole Sisters, The Homeschool Solutions Show, Brave Writer, The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, The Morning Basket, A Delectable Education, and The Mason Jar. 

Some helpful books: The Well-Trained Mind (I’ve used this for years), Home Learning Year by Year (I peak at this a few times every year), Teaching in your Tiara (great for getting started), For the Children’s Sake (pure gold) Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (Sarah also leads the Read Aloud Revival podcast—great stuff), How Children Learn (this shifted by educational philosophy and outlook dramatically), and then there’s the whole Charlotte Mason series as well. 

6. Purchase curriculum. 

 

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A few basic tips about curriculum or purchasing resources that I feel strongly about:

  • Nothing is perfect but a lot of good, great, or almost perfect resources can shine with the creativity and positivity of an enthusiastic and faithful teacher.  Have peace that you will be able to teach your child well. Your enjoyment of learning, your charisma, leadership, etc. will be the most powerful tool you’ve got. Be wary of switching resources at the slightest hiccup or frustration. It can be so tempting to associate a purchase or signing up for something as the necessary means to succeed. But really, homeschooling is primarily a lot of steady dedication. And a lot of times that can mean being resourceful with what you’ve got even when it’s not shiny, new, or noteworthy. 

 

  • However, if you have the money and are intentional about it, supplementing your schooling in smart ways can be quite life-giving! I have seen this in small ways (buying a couple workbooks for the twins so that they would sit and have structured time in order for me to teach Thomas) and in big ones (this year, purchasing lots of supplemental history reads so they would be here and I wouldn’t have to hunt them down at the library every couple weeks—-such a blessing!). Were these things absolute must have, can’t-do-school-without-them needs? No. But they also weren’t feverish, frantic, or from a place of fear. Simply put, they made my job easier & I’m so glad I’ve splurged here or there for some things to make what we do more enjoyable, peaceful, efficient, etc. 

 

  • You can buy things used, so remember this if things are adding up quickly and your budget needs some breathing room.

 

  • Check out reviews on YouTube. You’ll want to be careful of ads, sponsorships, etc., but if you can weed through that, you can often find some helpful demonstrations, explanations of how homeschools actually put the resources to use which will make you more confident in your purchases. 

 

7. Dive in.  

Execute. Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat. (x about a billion.)

You’ve got this! 

 

If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this post or anything I’ve failed to include, or about anything else related to homeschooling or how we do it, let me know! I hope this was helpful. Homeschooling can be an intimidating undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be an experience that leads to lots of joy and success. I hope I can be of some assistance, so do not hesitate to message me or comment below. 

 

~Ashley

Back to School

I absolutely love this time of year. Summer is losing a bit of its edge, routine is once again rosy and bright, and there’s a bouquet of sharpened pencils sitting on my wine cabinet. 

We started school last week. We’re in our 2nd year of homeschool, and the presence of that 1st year homeschool badge was felt—starting this time was so smooth and easy. Like butter, baby. 

Hardest part of our 1st day right here. Back to school photos to ward off the mom guilt. So easy, right? (They are waving at dogs. Always with the dogs.)

I’m really grateful for our summer. It was a little bit of everything. Bubbles and lightning bugs in the backyard. Watching underwear-clad boys chase each other and fart around with dirt piles. Visits with family and trips out for fun away from home too. Rest for all of us. Play for al of us. Only 1 very simple ER trip but mostly a chill, incident-free summer.  All in all, it was a true swing to the left of everything the school year was & I think that’s exactly what our family needed.

But now we’re back and I’m happy again to see the order and structure, stacks of library books around the house, and three handsome boys sitting around our table doing math and scribbling on the faces of animals (twins). 

 Emerick was sick on our 1st day. Actually the whole 24 hours preceding our 1st day involved a lot of bodily fluid clean-up and constant running of the washing machine of which I've already, mostly, blocked out of my memory. 

Emerick was sick on our 1st day. Actually the whole 24 hours preceding our 1st day involved a lot of bodily fluid clean-up and constant running of the washing machine of which I've already, mostly, blocked out of my memory. 

We’ve joined a co-op. It’s called Catholic Schoolhouse & we’ll meet with them one half day each week. I’m excited to be plugged into a community, for the kids to have a bit more formality as well as hands-on activities in art and science (pulling out “all the things” for projects is not my forte), and for me to lead a group of older kids as a “tutor” as well.  I was told by one of the moms with several kids that her clan already reported to her post-open house that “That Thomas Anderson is NOT SHY AT ALL.” 

Last year the twins were too young, active, and averse to speak English any more than they were Klingon…to feast at the table of homeschooling. So it was that Thomas and I would be discussing a poem and the twins were kicking down block towers. Or Thomas and I would be tackling math problems and the twins were jumping off the fireplace while yelling. And Thomas and I would be studying whales while the twins were trying in earnest to be lions.  All this said, a lot can change in a year. And it did. And now the twins, at 3, are happy to be quiet for swaths of time, speak more English than twinese (barely), and sit at the table for good chunks of time pretending to be students. It’s great. What a world of difference! 

One of the most wonderful things about falling apart is that you rise stronger. You look back and say, “not that. ever again.” I’ve fallen down so many times since becoming momma. And each time it’s so damn ugly. Falling apart in a mental sense. Falling apart trying to do it all. Falling apart because toys multiplying under my feet.  But all the falling apart is so beautiful because it so viscerally breaks something old to make way for something new. 

This year I feel so new. More new than a shiny notebook and sharp pencils. I feel new because I’ve taken excellent care of my body all summer. I feel new because last year I kinda broke, crushed from the weight of running frantic circles around expectations as a mom and wife. I’m in a really wonderful space right now where I’m comfortable being in my skin, both the literal and figurative. I own that I’m not enough just as I own my job well done.  Something has changed in me deeply. I feel powerful and energetic and capable of magically beautiful things. I feel in charge and decisive and exactly where I am supposed to be. I’m in a very good, calm, joyful place. And I’m happy this is where our year kicks off because a happy, healthy mom is what every child deserves, homeschooled or not. 

What else? There are so many things to say! 

But I’ll end here. Wherever you are and whomever you are, I hope you are enjoying a new start too.  It’s wonderful at these starting lines to remember where we were a year ago. I have to laugh and put my hand over my heart to think of how small my thinking can be, where I was a year ago and what little foresight I had for knowing that all would be okay. We grow and learn and love much more in a year than we think we will. And that’s why we should whole-heartedly, delightedly embrace this fresh start. It’s thrilling to think there’s much, much more than even our eager, ready to run selves can imagine. Isn’t that just the most wonderful thing?

* I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed you. That’s all. 

**Curriculum post soon if you're into that sort of thing.