Amy: How to homeschool looks different for so many families. Actually, every family, their homeschool is gonna look different from every other family that homeschools.
Hi friends, and welcome. I’m your host AmyElizSmith. I’m a homeschool mom of three and have homeschooled each from the start. While I have a master’s in elementary ed, I want to teach other mamas that you don’t need a fancy degree to have the passion and knowledge to successfully educate your children from home.
I hope to bring you encouragement to jump in and start your homeschool journey and provide my absolute best recommendations to help you begin your homeschool journey. Thanks for joining us along for this crazy, messy grace-filled homeschool ride.
Welcome back everyone. We are continuing our Homeschool 101 series, and today we’re gonna talk about how to homeschool. James 1:5 says, “Now, if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” So first of all, before seeking out guidance from anything else, spend some time in the words, spend some time in prayer.
Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. How to homeschool looks different for so many families. Actually, every family. Their homeschool is gonna look different from every other family that homeschools. Just know that and how you fit the schoolwork in and the education in will be up to you.
Of course, we wanna have standards and we want our children to be learning the right things and making sure that they’re progressing according to their age. But as I’ve said before, there is less pressure in homeschool and there’s more time to dive in to just the richness of the wisdom of old.
Today we’re gonna talk about several philosophies and maybe some of those might pique your interest on how you are going to decide to homeschool. You can take bits and pieces of each thing. Every parent is different and every child is different. I homeschool my three kids differently. Each of them have different needs, different learning styles, and I’ve tried to make sure to keep those things in mind.
At the same time, while I prefer classical education and Charlotte Mason education, I also wanna make sure that they’re learning just the beauty and wisdom of the liberal arts. So I incorporate that. Regardless of their learning style and regardless of their needs or even, disability, children are just so malleable.
They’re like sponges. They will take in knowledge and in different ways. It’s the science of relations that Charlotte Mason talks about. How to homeschool can look different for every family. And even if you both work, even if both parents work or you’re a single parent and you work, this can still work.
There are many different ways, and I wanna give you a couple of ideas to get those wheels turning in your brain for how you can get your child out of the government school system. You can group together with some people in your neighborhood or in your city. You could form your own co-op, especially if someone is in the same situation where you find a sitter for your children who can do some minimal schoolwork or even a lot more schoolwork.
You could then do the core of your work during the evenings or on the weekend. Another option is to form a pod several kids and you all come together, maybe locally at a church, you find a space or at someone’s home. I would definitely make sure if you were at a home, that you always have two adults that just protects the kids and the adults alike.
Forming a mini co-op could definitely work. But you can get creative with how you homeschool. You can find a loving neighbor. Maybe you have a grandparent who would be willing to care for your children. There are a lot of different ways and a lot of different families, they look different.
Now for my family, my husband works and he actually works from home. But I am home with them and I’m able to keep the home and teach the children. That has been wonderful and such a blessing for us. And any work that I do for this podcast or for my website or my blog, it has been such a joy for me to be able to do that.
Maybe in the afternoons or I wake up early in the morning, but the core of what my job is, is to mother my children and to teach my children. I am their mother and I am their teacher. Sometimes, I’ll admit it, it’s hard to separate the two and the kids need to be able to separate the two too, but actually you’re a teacher.
When you’re out at the park, you’re a teacher. When you’re at the store, you’re a teacher. When you’re at the museum, you’re a teacher at a swim meet every single day is an opportunity. Every single moment is an opportunity for learning. Your schedule will look different from everybody.
Ideally, how to homeschool, in an ideal world, I think learning can be best done in the mornings. All humans, our brains and our willpower is strongest in the mornings. And what we do is we have my children’s workbooks for their individual work set out. I set those things out in the evening, they wake up. My son in particular, he wakes up very, very early and he wants to get all his schoolwork done.
And then I am able to work with each of my three kids individually. Before we do that, about nine o’clock in the morning, we try to come together and do some fine arts time. Our fine arts together. That is a time where we sing hymns and we’re able to read some beautiful poetry, read some scripture, learn about either a composer or that poet.
Just a really nice time to come together. Then we’ll do a little bit of history perhaps, and more singing. Then those individual lessons happen, and by that time it’s gonna be lunchtime when we all gather together for lunch, siblings together, family together, and how do homeschool? Is the kids help with food preparation.
The kids help with those chores, with the clearing the table and wiping the table and doing the dishes and sweeping and emptying the dishwasher. It’s wonderful. We all have jobs and it’s not without grumbling from the kids, sometimes grumbling from the mom, but those things are done. All together and at lunchtime we have a meeting.
We do Bible time, and then we do science and or more history together. We do a bunch of reading short readings from various books that we enjoy, whether it’s about Christian heroes or missionaries or some ancient Roman or Greek studies. We love that time together. And then afterwards. Ideally for us, that’s the time when my kids go out and have their own interests, and my daughters might be knitting or doing art.
They’ll listen to an audiobook. I have other audiobooks lined up that I want them to hear. If they hadn’t listened to all of them in the morning, my son might jump on and do some coding. He’s doing a robotics course right now, or jump on doing some scratch. Again, anytime my kids are on the internet, I have things locked down.
I have online resources to help guide you through that because truly part of being a parent is protecting our kids. So we wanna make sure that we are, in theory, cognizant of what is on the internet, and we need to shield our children as, as long as possible from things that can really be detrimental to their brain development.
So I will include that in the show notes. The online safety resources that I’ve compiled. But hopefully my description of our homeschool day has helped you to see that it can be calm, it can be a relax, you can fight the overwhelm and you can rest. Some days we’ll do a field trip. Some days we’ll do half of what I described, but ideally, as you have older kids, they will be having some independent work time, especially focusing on some of that math.
But how to homeschool is simply, you can take your kids outta school and you can begin to read aloud, and then you can grow it from there. You could have some nature time, you can cook in the kitchen and then grow it from there. You don’t have to have a full schedule. You don’t have to have your philosophy of education picked out yet.
You don’t have to have your curriculum picked out yet. You can start now. We want to let go of the, I need to haves or I need to be like so-and-so. None of that is true. You are the parent. You have the choices, and you have the freedom to educate your children, but also to intentionally do less. Our school day is intentional for it to be a calm time and a calm day.
Some of the times the children are bored and that’s perfectly fine. Throughout that time too is nature walks or just outdoor time is a must at lunchtime or before lunchtime. I know some families who take an intentional family walk before any schoolwork is introduced. I love that. That wouldn’t necessarily work for us, but every single homeschool is gonna look different.
Let’s take a look now at some of the different philosophies. I’m going to briefly go over a couple for you, and those include classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Reggio ,Waldorf, unschooling, unit studies, and we’re gonna just see what philosophy might look nice to you. And again, I’ve done bits and pieces of all of these and I’ve changed what we’ve done according to the ages of my kids and according to what I’ve learned.
So just briefly- classical education imparts on children the tools of learning a liberal arts education. There’s emphasis on beauty, truth, and goodness, and classical education begins in ancient Greece and classical teaching roots begin from the words of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and later it’s Christian roots are in Augustine, Luther and Louis.
Classical education seeks to uphold these traditions that created western culture and civilization. Much of this content rich curriculum is founded on virtue, and in the classroom there’s strong emphasis on traditional environment where a teacher is front in front of the children and directing instruction and facilitating the curriculum. That is classical education. Cheryl Swope wrote in her book that classical education develops the mind towards all that is just, wise, virtuous, and eloquent, and emphasis is on recitation as they cultivate mental strength, power, and agility.
Let’s move on to Charlotte Mason. Who was she? She lived in England.
She was a British educator, and she lived from the mid -1800s to the early 1900s. She said, “We hold that all education is defined, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above.” So the Charlotte Mason method is based on her firm belief that every child is a person, a whole person, and we educate not just their mind.
Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. I am gonna quote her again. She said “The question is not how much does the youth know when he has finished his education, but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set, and therefore, how full is the life he has set before him? Or he has before him.”
Just beautiful. This differs a bit from classical education. While some of those core liberal arts principles are absolutely in a Charlotte Mason way, it is more gentle in it’s presented in the form of living books. There is recitation, but less memorization and love for God’s creation and the edification of the soul of the child is emphasized.
Moving on to the Montessori method, which was founded by Maria Montessori. She threw down barriers in her own right when she grew up in Italy and she went to become a doctor at a medical program. Her method is about independent learning with specially designed materials.
So a lot of the education is based on the environment and there is a strict curriculum for specially trained Montessori teachers. It offers children key areas of study, and these areas are practical, life sensory or sensorial, mathematics, language and cultural studies. In a Montessori curriculum, there is a sequence for teaching and sequence for the materials and activities and experiences that the child will pursue.
There’s strong focus on independence that a child is free to choose their activities. A Montessori education begins quite early in infant hood, and then it goes even on through grade school, which a lot of people don’t know about. A lot of people have the familiarity with the younger ages and the younger groups and all those beautiful materials that teach very educational concepts for kids.
The Reggio Amelia approach is an educational philosophy that was founded in Reggio Amelia, Italy. Another Italian philosophy. I find that fascinating. After the war, educators and families believe children needed new ways to learn and cultivate their minds, to invest in their futures. This approach, it isn’t as firm on any curriculum or anything, but it is based on a child being able to express themselves and that will help them develop their personality. Activities are focused on process rather than content, and this is an early childhood approach. I actually love this approach. It focuses on painting, drawing, sculpting, drama, creating things based on small parts play a lot of love for learning, and it enhances a child’s preparation for going to school.
I love the play focus here and just the fun attitude of these schools. It’s a really fascinating approach and I definitely used a lot of this when my children were young and my youngest even now.
Founded in the early 20th century is Waldorf Education, and this is based on the teachings and principles from Rudolph Steiner, who was an artist and a scientist, and a philosopher.
Really, his principles were, based in the understanding of human development and addressing the needs of a growing child. Core components of this educational system is that the student teacher relationship and there’s an artistic approach and working from experience to concepts, working from the whole to the part.
There’s a lot of rhythm and repetition and observation done, and this type of teaching really cultivates a sense of wonder and it inspires children to view the world incorporating storytelling, art, music, and particularly using mythology in learning. A lot of their learning is done via these stories and these blocks of learning, which is similar to a unit study.
Next we’re gonna talk about unit studies. Briefly and unit studies is having focus time on one topic and incorporating many subjects into that one topic. If a family wanted to focus on Egypt, they could get their history and their cultural studies and their music time, and their art time, all surrounding Egypt and learning Egypt, and then you could do it about marine biology or ocean animals, and then you could learn all about mammals or let’s say a time in American history like the Civil War or the Revolutionary War. All the learning is incorporated into that subject. Now in this part of learning is a parent will be facilitating that learning and be gathering materials for a child to look through.
Maybe they’re gonna be able to project, maybe they’re just gonna be reading stories, but this is very hands-on. It often can be literature-based and even nature-based if you’re focused on a science subject.
Now going back, this is quite different from unit studies, but the traditional philosophy of learning seeks to recreate a school experience in the home. Children are working with textbooks and usually workbooks and sitting at a desk and it might be very formal. Now, this structure may be very good for students.
I certainly do use workbooks in some of the subjects for my own kids, but it can also be disastrous for other students. It’s just can be based on what your child’s needs are. And for just a caveat, for me, dry textbooks, I don’t think ignite a love or a spark for learning. I much prefer living books, biographies, primary texts, story books that can really make history come alive or topics come alive.
You can read these types of books even about science, which can be much more interesting for a child than a dry textbook.
The last philosophy is the unschooling philosophy, and this is where the child guides his own education. This, again, can be helpful for some families that do it right, so to speak, and disastrous for others.
Some families can get just very lazy and just let their child just do whatever. But if you’re facilitating and taking a cyclical approach to this, where you’re cycling through various topics, you’re making sure they’re getting the grammar and the writing and the spelling done, and you absolutely have a math program, then I don’t think that there could be anything wrong with it. However, it could become irresponsible if you have a complete hands-off approach. So your learning is based on a child’s interest. Let’s say the child is interested in coding or ballet, or horses or salamanders, your child can do learning based on that.
Now, if you require them to write a long research paper on those salamanders that could become quite a bit of learning, and you could find out more about geography based on where different types of salamanders live. But again, you’d have to stay on top of these learning ideas in order for a well-rounded education to happen.
Because I do believe children need to be challenged. I don’t favor unschooling or even unit studies, but again, every family has a different approach. I do caution though that the wisdom of all those liberal arts topics that the child doesn’t even know about will really be beneficial to that child if you expose them to those things- fine and beautiful art, Roman mythology, Greek mythology, learning about logic, those things that child wouldn’t have even known to be interested in. Well that’s because we need to expose them to these things. Right.
That’s quite a lot to think about, many different philosophies, and I share those with you to spark your interest, to get you excited. If you already have decided where you homeschool, that’s wonderful if you are thinking about changing things up. Hopefully that was a little bit helpful.
I have a quick guide to educational philosophies that you can download. The link is in the show notes, so if you go to the show notes, click there. It can be sent right to your email, so you can take a look at these because I’m also going to include in there what curriculums that you could purchase, or even some curriculums can be found for free that were based off of some of these.
And some curriculums use a multifaceted approach where they incorporate different elements of several different philosophies. So I just encourage you at the beginning that less is more and to just calmly go into homeschool. Read books, get into nature, get into cooking as a family together, and then you can decide your math.
Then you can go in and decide your history or citizenship. Or geography. It doesn’t need to be a stressful thing. It can be very exciting. Hopefully that’s given you some ideas for how to homeschool. The goal truly is connection and high quality education. When you’re reading them high quality stories, high quality books about amazing heroes of old, that is going to be so rich, far richer than what they would be learning in public schools.