"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters
compared to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Creative Homeschooling

Several people have asked me how I homeschool Isabella and Anastasia, (and Catherine too, since she insists on it!)  so I thought I would share.

I am not an unschooler, nor am I a classical homeschooler. I guess I am kind of an eclectic type of teacher. I use a variety of curriculum that fits each kid's learning style. I homeschooled Elliot through the fourth grade, when he decided that he didn't have to listen to me, so off to public school he went. Isabella and Anastasia go to a two day a week school. They focus on Science and History. I pretty much homeschool all year round, though we take breaks when we want.

We read a bunch. I usually check out twenty-five books from the library every other week. When Francesca and Victoria take a nap, I read chapter books to the other girls. This is kind of our special time. I don't insist they read for a certain time each day, but they love to read.

"To Kill A Mockingbird" is quite a favorite with the preschool group.

Here are some of my favorites:

I am thinking of using "Teaching Textbooks" next year for math instead of Horizons. It is a computer math program that is graded. Has anyone used it?

One of the best things about homeschooling is seeing all the creative ideas my kids come up with. They turned the recycling containers into a rolly polly habitat. Then we researched them on the computer. Did you know that they are the only crustacean that can spend its entire life on land?

We conducted an experiment to use what was the rollie pollies favorite diet. Lettuce won by a landslide.

Anastasia found an old bird nest and decided to make her own. She also got a chicken egg, blew out the inside and dyed it. 

Everyone has learned tons of medical terms thanks to Francesca and Victoria. The girls like to bandage up their dolls' heads and give them cranial vaults. 

They learn so much from each other. Catherine is teaching Francesca that worms are not something to scream about.

They really look out for each other.

I try not to be immediately available to help them with every little thing. I like them to try to figure things out on their own.

Francesca is dividing the dog food into thirds. What a math genius!

Besides the 3 R's, I hope that I am teaching them to be kind and caring and not to just think of themselves.

I would also love to hear ideas from other homeschoolers, especially about how to homeschool older kids with little ones. 


  1. Are you familiar with the Lajoy's blog? She just talked about Teaching Textbooks in her post yesterday: http://lajoyfamily.blogspot.com/2012/06/day-1.html

  2. I'm using Teaching Textbooks for the first time and we LOVE them. My son who hated maths now doesn't mind it at all!

  3. I love reading about your family. Your posts always make me smile. I too would love some ideas about how to homeschool with little ones and older ones. I'm doing a lot of praying, and hoping for the best come September.:) I'm spending the summer in denial - and having lots of fun!!

  4. We use TT, and I will NEVER use anything else! I have used A Beka and Bob Jones in the past, and while both are great Math programs, my children hated them. My girls still don't love doing Math, but with TT, they hate it a little less ;) It is also easy for Mom, because they basically do everything for you by teaching the lesson AND grading it!

  5. I found this blog through www.Pinterest.com a while ago. Here's the link: http://no1hasmorefun.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-to-do-with-samuel.html

    I hope it works. I saved it to use with my kids at work (toddlers) but the post was to give ideas on how to keep little kids busy while you home school older ones. Love reading your blog. You seem like such a fun mom!

  6. I love to look at homeschool items and dream of homeschool. But, I'm single and work and really I'm kind of terrible at it. Can't get a schedule going. My oldest has FASD and attachment (not RAD) issues and so it is best to send him off to public. My youngest from Russia adoption has amazingly scary high IQ as per test but barely made through K at a great private school (with a curriculum called constructivism): he is way into imaginative play. Since he isn't learning I thought homeschool but I'm too lazy so we are trying a local Waldorf school next year (as he LOVED the visits and camp there: but not at any other schools)...not sure I'm up for all the volunteering and worried my lack of real committment to no video games/t.v. on school night will deter this plan.

    Anyway, I'd love to homeschool in theory and to that end I bought Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading which caught him up in Kindergarten to sounding out words; I also bought Horizon K and he flew through book 1 and is doing 1 page a day of book two. My mother who is watching him this summer is so much better then I and he does lots of worksheets, math drills (like skip counting), and spelling lists she makes up. The problem is my mother has a learning disorder (dyslexia) and she actually dropped out of school in 5th grade as a child...so she needs to rely on workbooks and not focusing on reading.

    I was to do the reading so bought the above book (then only did the first 33 daily lessons in 45 day at that, but if I'd have stuck to plan doing on lesson per day I would be on lesson 151 now). A friend gave me 5 in Row book 1 and I love the format but again I'm just too tired and swamped at end of day to do much.

    So: no homeschooling, but I try to supplement with worksheets (my mom does anyway) and math drills, then he spends rest of day playing with his toys or with neighborhood kids. His social, emotional, behavioral, and imagination are amazing. Academics he really seems to struggle without lots of repetition / drilling.

    My guy has Hanhart Syndrome by the way.

  7. We're sprinkling some subjects throughout the summer but I'm more traditional (being public-schooled myself but my husband was homeschooled) so we will be doing a lot of curriculum with a lot of exploration, discovery and field trips thrown in for good measure. We are officially beginning in the fall. My mom-in-law, who homeschooled her four kids, take my two oldest (5 and 7 yrs old) every Wednesday for crafts (they're learning to crochet and sew!) and to keep them brushed up on important lessons.

  8. I've been homeschooling for just over 20 years, and I seem to become more relaxed as I go along!(Not sure if that is wisdom or necessity). As for teaching olders and youngers at the same time, I find that my olders become more and more independent (I'm sure that IS out of necessity!), and that most of my attention is focused on the youngers. I try to have lots of things around that invite learning, and it looks like you do, too. In the younger years, I focus on reading, writing, and math, though lots of other subjects just happen as we live our lives. Once they are proficient in those areas, they can explore just about anything with minimal help. One thing I have NOT tried, however, is your very unique curriculum for teaching compassion (You know, adopting children with special needs, making multiple hospital trips and recoveries.......) We do have one built-in special-needs chap at our house, though. I didn't even have to cross an ocean to find him....he is homegrown, autism included. In all seriousness, though, you have hit on the most important area....having kids with character and compassion. What a joy it is to read your blog and see the progress your little ones are making. One last thing...we are using Teaching Textbooks for Algebra and Algebra 2 so far. The curriculum is a bit behind other math programs we've used, but as long as you follow through their series, you'll cover all the same things eventually. It is working well for our junior high/highschoolers because it is so independent, and I am happy with it for that reason. My boys did not like the similar Saxon DVD's (DIVE), and are pretty picky overall, so that is a good recommendation.
    I know I'm kind of rambling, but we just got over a week of the stomach flu at our house, and I'm still in recovery mode. Hope some of it is helpful!

  9. What is that first picture "Explode the Code"?

    My daughters are 2 yo and 3 months so we have a way to go, but so far I like Switched on Schoolhouse and ATI's Wisdom workbooks. Alpha Omega has some very good programs too. However I am just starting to research and go to conferences, so none of this is from experience or set in stone :)

    My husband and I learn best by doing and homeschool is the best fit if our children follow us. If not we'll look into Christian private/charter schools. Our area is thankfully full of them.

    Happy schooling!


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