I get asked a lot, How long each day do I spend homeschooling?, or How do we Homeschool ? Homeschooling will be as different to each family as there are families homeschooling. But for the sake of ideas in your home I will share what works well for us.
First let me share a little about our family and our lifestyle. We have seven children ranging from 18 down to my one year old. I knew I would homeschool from the time I was pregnant with my first child, at the time I didn’t know anyone else who homeschooled, it was just what I felt and I have ever since. We have a farming lifestyle, so our School changes with the seasons of the year and the seasons of life.
So how long do I homeschool each day? This is a tricky question. I may only sit down for an hour or 2 of truly directed “schooling.” But to us “Life is School” So I could also argue that we homeschool for as many hours as we are awake.
Right now, at the beginning of spring, I will share our typical day. The weather is nice. We have lots of dairy goats to milk and chicken eggs to collect and a new puppy to train into a working farm dog. We all get up bright and early to get the chores done, all the animals taken care of, little children fed and diapers changed. This takes everyone’s cooperation and even the littlest ones get some kind of chore. This is instilling team work and a good work ethic, not to mention the science involved with the animals, child care and strengthening our family as a unit.
Then we all gather around our table, this is my favorite part of the day. We read a Psalm (or any part of Scripture) we like to read the same portion each day until we have it memorized. Then we pray, this can be a challenge with little ones but trust me the more consistent you are, the more loving direction you give, and the more they mature, they will grow to expect it. Of course the one year old we just try to keep occupied with something quiet or hope he takes a nap, but my 3 year old, who is quite wild, now sits mostly still and likes to put his hands together, he will even pitch in with something like “Thank you YHVH for turtles” Everyone gets a turn, as I want them all to be comfortable praying, depending on Yahweh and trusting in Him.
Then we get into the more “school-like” stuff. We are reading poems by Emily Dickenson, we spent one day reading about her life, now we are enjoying discussing and trying to figure out what she was trying to convey in her poems.
Then we read out of a child’s devotional book, “God’s Amazing Creatures and Me” We learn some interesting facts about a characteristic of an animal, and then look at what that teaches us, we talk about listening better or watching our tongue, and then we read a bible verse related to it. We are liking this book, I will be sad when we finish it.
Then I use flash cards. My older ones are working on reading Hebrew, so while they pick out a few Hebrew cards to read to the group I give my little ones ages 7, 5, 3 worksheets ( the 3 year old just gets a coloring sheet ) I am doing Dolch words with them, they are common English sight words, you can look it up. We review words we have done, then I go back and forth giving my little ones a new word to write in their worksheet and while they are writing my older ones 18, 17, and 15 take turns reading a Hebrew word and showing the group. It’s all good practice and I try to keep everyone busy. Then my little ones get a handwriting worksheet appropriate for them. (The 7 year old is doing cursive, the 5 year old is doing reading readiness type stuff, and the 3 year old is still sort of coloring or getting into whatever manipulatives I have brought to the table.)
As they do handwriting we start our Polyglot training, we have always been interested in foreign languages, we are all studying Hebrew, we have learned some Spanish and French, and we start sign language with our babies (We like the videos Signing Time) So we decided to see if we could learn a bunch of languages at once, a Polyglot is someone who speaks many languages. So we picked 6 languages and are simultaneously learning phrases and vocabulary for all. It is slow going but fun as we try to remember and quiz each other each day. The little ones repeat the words too as they do their writing. I will let you know how it works out, it is all an experiment right now, but language stimulates different parts of the brain and if we are enjoying it, I know it will benefit their learning as a whole whether we end up polyglots or not.
Finally, we talk about any news or things we need to do for the day, I give my older children their independent assignments (English, History, Science) and we break for lunch.
In addition to the assignments I have given them, for the remainder of the day, my older children also have on-going math, music and Hebrew Rosetta Stone lessons; they dabble in art from the many books we have; Abi sews; the boys are learning programming; and we all are interested in fitness and health. As long as they do the assignments I give them and stay active, I don’t bother them much. I do show interest and give them advice and then I check the assignments when they are done. I am blessed that we don’t have many problems, we have always had a learning environment and my children enjoy it.
As for my little ones, I find a good time to sit down with Rebekah my 7 year old and do her reading lesson, we have tried a lot of different reading programs, I am using “Hooked On Phonics” with her right now and we really like it. You need to find what works with your personalities as well as your child’s learning style. I am doing the “Hooked On Phonics” cards with my 5 and 3 year old. Once they are comfortable with all the sounds we will move into the workbooks and reading. Kaleb is almost ready.
Other than that the rest of our day is filled with reading aloud; crafts; playing; nature; an educational video; listening to a CD of music, a story or history; and some days we run errands. At the end of our day we do our chores, have dinner, clean up and some nights as a treat we watch something on tv together, a movie or educational program. Sometimes with organic popcorn.
We really enjoy homeschooling and my children are thriving academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. What more could we ask for?
I will share more what we do with our high schoolers in my next blog.