This is the “run-down” about why and how we homeschool.
Our School Name.
When we first started homeschooling in North Carolina, we called our school, “Shining Light Academy.” But over time as the children grew, I thought that SLA sounded a tad childish and wanted something more suitable for their transcripts.
And so, our school is “Elucere Academy.” Elucere is Latin, and it means, a “light that shines forth.” So basically it is the same thing, but sounds much better. That is the name that will go on our final records, transcripts, diplomas, etc.
How do we homeschool?
There are many “styles” of homeschooling out there…
School-at-Home….where people essentially create the classroom environment at home, Pledge of allegiance, schedules, subject blocks, etc.
Unit Studies…where people study topics and combine all the subjects in things around that topic. Such as….Trains. The science of trains, read about trains, write stories about trains, the history of trains, do art project involving trains, and on and on.
The list goes on…
The Charlotte Mason Method
The Waldorf Method
“Relaxed” or “Eclectic” Homeschooling
I don’t even know what some of those mean! LOL I suppose if you were to put us into a category, we would be considered “Relaxed and Eclectic” homeschoolers.
When we first started homeschooling, I purchased boxed sets of curriculum through Christian Liberty Press. It had every subject, and everything you needed to teach a particular grade level. They even came with record/planner books.
That worked great for us at first, because one of the hardest parts of homeschooling (once you have made the decision that YOU CAN DO IT) – is picking curriculum. There is SO much out there. Just google it sometime. It’ll make your head spin!
But as time went on, I was able to see other types of curriculum, see things other people used. Our local homeschool co-op even had a “Curriculum show & tell” which was wonderful! Because one of the downsides to purchasing curriculum, is unless you are lucky enough to have a local homeschool store, you have to order things from catalogs or online…sight unseen. I am a hands-on kind of person, and I like to see something before I buy it. Don’t you flip through a book before you check it out at the library? Read the back, glance through the pages? And that is the library. Purchasing something as important as curriculum, without ever seeing it is risky business, so those “show & tells” are wonderful.
The first time I “stepped outside the box” was with our science curriculum. A dear friend told me about her science…Apologia. She even let me borrow a book they weren’t using, and I fell in love. The following year, I began only ordering what I wanted from that company, and ordering other things that suited us better. Being able to tailor your curriculum to each child is wonderful. The flexibility is priceless.
For example….my daughter used a particular math curriculum, and it was wonderful for her. Her math scores sky-rocketed, and she was succeeding.
Pass the same curriculum down to my boys, and it was nothing but tears and sorrow. They were not learning, they didn’t get it. Their brains were not wired the same way. And so, you bite the bullet, swallow the expense of a pricey curriculum that now you can’t use, and begin the search for something that works for them.
So over the years, we have kind of developed our own curriculum. Apologia Science, Systematic Mathematics, and now Teaching Textbooks (next year), Rosetta Stone, BJU Health, and on and on.
I have bookshelves full of classic books. I always have the kids reading something. Most of the time I let them pick the next book they want to read. Other times I assign a specific book. For instance, when we were studying the middle east, Babylon, etc – I had them read The Arabian Nights. As we study the Renaissance, I am going to have them read some Shakespeare. But as long as they are reading something, they are learning.
So what is a typical day of homeschooling in our house?
First of all, we don’t have alarm clocks. I guess this is where the “relaxed” part comes in. We don’t have a strict schedule. We do have certain routines, but not like a school building, for certain.
So when the kids roll out of bed….or I roll out of bed (because I’m a homeschooler, and I’m on Conni Time)…we eat breakfast, watch the news, etc. – and when everyone is ready, we head to our classroom. It is simply a spare room that we have, where I have some whiteboards hung, bookshelves full of school books, etc. I enjoy having a set place for us to do our work. Once there, we start our day with prayer, and reading the bible. After that, we have a couple things we do together. For instance, I have all three children doing a writing journal. I give them a topic, and have them write about it. Tuesdays I give them a topic and do a 5-minute free-writing. Everything that comes into their heads, they write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just keep writing. It is a creativity thing. Fridays are independent writing, they write whatever they want.
After that, we continue on with subjects the older two do together, health, history, grammar, etc. Once those are done, they are free to work on the rest of their things, in whatever order they want, at whatever pace they want. Some days they get done with EVERYTHING by 11 am…..other days we are still working on something at 3 pm.
Every week, I give them a schedule. It has all of the assignments they have for each subject for the whole week. So each day they know what they need to do for the day. They don’t have to wait for me, they can just do it. I am there to help, but the older ones are able to work independently quite a bit, with just some guidance. Most of the time, all I have to do is correct their work, or answer an occasional question.
Even though I give them a schedule, there is still flexibility in it. There are times when I get up in the morning, look outside, and think “We need a field trip!” and declare a spontaneous “No School Day” and we go out. Or even just have them do a little less bookwork, so we can enjoy not being in a classroom for a day. Another great reason for this flexibility? Their Daddy is in the army. When he is deployed, he comes home on R&R. There are two whole weeks they have their Dad before he is gone again. You think I’m going to have them sitting in the classroom learning an equation, or spending precious time with their father? That’s a “no-brainer.”
“What about testing?”
Well….what about it? In our house, we don’t do a lot of testing. As a matter of fact, we don’t even do letter grades. I discuss things with the kids, I ask them questions, I am involved in what they are learning. I don’t have 30 kids that I have to keep track of, and so I don’t need the impersonal testing methods. I already know if they understand something, I already know if they have learned it. Grading…when I correct papers, I look at what they missed. I have them correct the mistakes, and they learn from them. Sometimes we have to stop and do a lesson over, and that is fine. For example, one day I corrected a math lesson. Over half of them were wrong, and when I asked the child how to fix them, they didn’t know. So we sat down, and re-did the lesson. Sometimes the way a book or video explains a concept, isn’t the way your child would understand it. So we would re-learn the lesson using different terms, different examples….then they would re-do the problems. This time they would get it. So in a way, I am continually testing without calling it that.
When we lived in NC, the kiddos were required to take an annual standardized test. I would order the test, give them the packets, and they do the test. Then I would pick them up, toss them in an envelope and mail them back. I didn’t even look to see if they filled in all the circles. A couple weeks later, I would get the results. I was not usually surprised. I already knew what their strengths and weaknesses are. But once in a while I would get a surprise. For instance, one child, who I will leave un-named…..is one of those, write the shortest answer possible…do the least you can do to get the job done, “slacker” types. They probably wouldn’t be the “Teacher’s Pet” in public school….and yet, this child KNOWS what they are doing. They are grasping the concepts, understanding the materials, and are learning. The test results from the company shows they are testing 3 grade levels above where they are.
Hmm. I guess something must be going right.
Even thought Alaska doesn’t require testing for Independent Homeschoolers, it is probably something we will continue to do.
And now the topic of JOY to all homeschooling families.
“But What about Socialization?”
Are you kidding me? I think every homeschooling parent must just want to implode, explode or burst out laughing when they hear this.
First, let’s take a look at this word.
Socialization – from the word “Socialize”
1. To make social; to fit or train for a social environment
2. to constitute on a socialistic basis; to adapt to social needs or uses
3. to organize group participation in
: to participate activelt in a social group
Do they live in a closet?
Okay. So. Do my children know how to act and interact with other people?
I think the typical homeschool has more “socialization” than the typical school kid.
As an adult, how many times have you been some place where EVERY SINGLE PERSON was your exact age? But isn’t that what traditional schools do? Group kids by age into grades?
In real life, you meet lots of people, from lots of places, of all different ages and ethnicities. That is real life.
My children go to the store, they go out in society, they interact with all sorts of people of all different ages and backgrounds.
So how about with other kids?
Believe me, sometimes the “socialization” is more than my schedule can handle!
We’ve been involved with 4-H, choir, football, bowling club…you name it, they have or are doing it. There are so many things they COULD do, that we have to set limits, or the “socialization” would take over!
So is socialization an issue? Can my children function in society? Can they speak to people that are different from them, have a normal conversation, hold a job? I think the answers to all are yes.
When is the last time you walked through a store, and saw a sulky, glaring, anti-social teenager, and inwardly feared for the future of humanity?
I personally doubt that was a homeschooler.
And so, this is a glimpse into our life, and the things we do as a homeschool family. But the next homeschool family you meet, will doubtfully look anything like this. Homeschoolers aren’t made with a cookie-cutter.
But this is us.
To see blog posts that I have written involving the subject of homeschooling, including carnival of Homeschooling submissions, go –>HERE
A few places that I find very helpful for locating curriculum books are:
RainbowResource.com – Sometimes you can find “damaged” books that have minor issues, but are at a discount because they aren’t perfect. I have bought a couple books that had simple problems like some bent pages, or a cut from a box-cutter on a back cover.
***Disclaimer: These websites or companies don’t know me, never heard of me, and have no idea I exist or that am writing these comments about them.
This article was written in 2010.