Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On Homeschooling

First Day of School 2010
Wow, you guys are super curious about homeschooling!  I got a ton of emails and comments, so I am going to try to answer some questions and give you all a clearer picture of how things work around here.

But first, let me just clear up some common misconceptions that I heard.  I am not any more patient, faithful, brave, smart, or rich than anyone else, including you.  If anything, there is less money around my house than there may be at yours.  I did not always know we were going to homeschool.  Neither my husband or I were homeschooled, and we both had great school experiences as children.  I have absolutely nothing against the school system.  Both my mother-in-love and several of my best friends are teachers-excellent teachers, truly.

Before we started, I pretty much thought that only the Duggars, Amish people, or hippies homeschooled their kids, and that they were all pretty much nuts.  I mean....I don't wear long skirts.  I still have a mouth like a trucker (but I'm working on it).  I still let my kids watch TV.  I still like going out for a drink with my girlfriends.  My kids are not super special little angels (well, they are special, but so are yours).  I am not perfect, not even kind of.  We are just a normal family who took a leap of faith and changed our lives.

And to be clear, that is what homeschooling is: a game-changer.  Somehow,  it is one of those decisions that makes you view the world and your life in an entirely different way.  It seems to affect all the decisions that you make after it, until you've woven the threads of your life into this amazing new thing, and it is so much better than you expected.  The longer we do it, the more surely I feel how right it is for families to spend most of their time together, making life and learning one and the same, instead of two separate things.

By having my children at home, we can complete all our academic work together, and still have time to build relationships with family, Daddy, the community, and each other.  We can experience all kinds of group activities, with children and adults of all ages, during the usual school day.  The kids have plenty of unstructured time to build, create, and play.  I can choose to teach my kids our values and answer their many, many questions in a way that reflects our family's beliefs (no matter how different or similar they may be from anyone else's).


I am way off track here.  Some of you wanted a more specific idea of our schedule, so here is a pretty average day Monday-Thursday.  (On Fridays we do art and art appreciation, science, and nature studies).  Other days we may have classes, Homeschool Enrichment Day (kind of a co-op), etc.  This is a lot more of a routine, not so much of a schedule by the clock:

Baby up, Mama up.  On a good day, when I get up on time, I have quiet time, read my email, and exercise.  On a not so good day, I get up in time to make breakfast.
Baby to nap, morning chores, sometimes a quick walk outside.
School-seat work* (let's say it is 9 am)
11am: Break time, make lunch
11:30: Lunch, then play-time
12:30: Littlest two sleeping, older two: Read Alouds
1pm: Quiet time for everyone
2:30: Everyone up, snack, TV time (told ya they watch TV)
3:30: Play-time, reading time, art projects, outside etc.
4:30: Get ready for Daddy and dinner.  We usually listen to music while we do this.
5:30 or 6: Daddy home!
6: Dinner and clean-up
7pm: Daddy time for girls, Mama puts baby to bed
8:30: Bedtime for girls

*So what gets done during seat work?  Everyday, Olivia, 5, completes the following subjects:
Language Arts: this is usually some kind of writing.  Writing letters to people, composing stories and little essays, etc.
Phonics Lesson/Learn to Read.  Olivia also usually reads a book to me during this time.
History (twice/week)

Amelia is working on a letter of the week curriculum.  Both girls are using the same Core from Sonlight, so she participates in all the same Read Alouds and activities at her own level.

During Read Aloud time, we are usually working from several books at one time, as dictated by our curriculum (Sonlight).  Many of the books are chapter books or short story books.  Others are the Bible, poetry, science, picture books, social studies, etc.  All of these are "living books" instead of textbooks.  (If you are looking for great books to read with your kids, I highly suggest that you take a look at Sonlight's website. (Full disclosure: that is my referral link.  Use it and get $5 off your first order of $50).  It is divided up by age or grade, and the reading suggestions are phenomenal.  You can buy the books themselves either from Sonlight, or Amazon, or get them at the library).  Besides the books assigned by the curriculum, the girls and I are usually reading another chapter book before naptime and bedtime.  I choose these based on what I like, or what the girls are interested in.  Choices have included all the Little House books, Charlotte's Web, Boxcar Children, Little Women, Junie B Jones, etc.

I will do another post on all the curriculum we have used and what we are planning on using next year, but hopefully this will give you an idea of how our days flow and what we are up to, and what we love about homeschooling.

And the kids, what do they love about homeschooling?:
Olivia: "Math.  I mean, that we get to be with each other, instead of just having a teacher."
Amelia: "I'm reading a book right now.  What sound does this letter make again?"

That is verbatim what they said.

STILL have questions?  Have at it in the comments, or email me.


  1. Love your honesty Shannon! I was one of those who thought I'd never do it, didn't think I fit the bill, didn't think I'd have the patience with my kids, but God called me to do it. With 5, and two teenagers to boot! And He is able! You are so right, it is a game changer, and a good one at that! Have a great day! You definitely have a gift for writing.... keep it up!

  2. Shannon O'Dell WenzelMay 3, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Thanks Charmaine! Let's see if I'm still so opinionated when my kids are teenagers!