Did you start homeschooling because of Covid?

Actually, no! We had been considering homeschooling for a few months prior to the pandemic.

Why are you homeschooling your kids?

For lots of reasons! I have a Master’s Degree in Education, and have worked both as a classroom teacher and as an instructional coach. Through my years in education, I was able to learn about some of the best-practice and forward-thinking instructional strategies out there. I was confident I could provide our kids with a rigorous, individualized education experience at home, and I wanted to make sure to give our kids the opportunity to explore their interests, to problem-solve and innovate, to see the interconnectivity of the world around us through their schooling.

I also want to make sure that the kids have a really, really strong foundation in matters of morality and theology. I don’t want to ‘shelter’ them from outside influence in the sense that they would be shocked at what the world looks like outside of our home later on, but as their parents, we want to be the first ones to have open, honest conversations with our kids about certain things.

Here’s an example of this in action: Depending on the source, the average age a child is first exposed to pornography is between 11-13. In homes where porn is not accessible, many children are first exposed through another child…like, for example, a student who has a cell phone on the school bus, showing other kids.

I know that my children are going to encounter all sorts of things in their life. But before they encounter certain things, I want them to understand what is good, and right, and true, and why those things all matter.

Let’s take the example of pornography and walk through our family’s approach: I want our kids to understand the inherent dignity of the human person, and that each and every human is made in the image of God. I want them to understand that love is a gift of self, and that the opposite of love is ‘use,’ and that it disrespects the dignity of the human person to use another person in any way. And that pornography is very much using another person, and is the opposite of self-gift. It takes the body of a person, and objectifies it. That separating the body from the human soul in this way isn’t love, and is wrong. That way, when they come across something that objectifies another human, whether it be porn or an objectification of some other kind, they can recognize the dignity of the human person in that situation, and can choose to honor and love that person by refusing to use them as an object.

Our work in forming our children will not be limited to this one issue, but that is the sort of thing we want our kids to understand. And that is the sort of dialogue we will have with our kids when it’s developmentally appropriate.

Also, I just wanted to spend more time with my kids. I blinked and Felicity is 8 years old. This is one of the many reasons I’m thankful that I got my book deal with Penguin Random House. (More on my authorly stuff here). It gave us some more flexibility to allow me to stay home and be with the kids in this way, and I’m so excited to be able to take advantage of this blessing and spend more time with my kids.

What curriculum are you using?

We’re using lots of different things, and that information can be found here.

Are you going to homeschool forever?

Not sure! Ten years ago, if someone asked me what my life would look like today, I would have gotten a lot of it wrong, so I’m hesitant to make any super confident statements that look into the far future. Right now the plan is to homeschool each child through middle school, and reassess what would be the best fit for them from there.

You have a lot of children! How do you structure your day?

This structure will definitely change over time, especially as we add more children who require educating, but here’s where we’ve started.

We’ve been trying to start at about 7:45 each morning, four days a week. We are in most cases done between 11 and 12. August finishes a bit earlier than Felicity most days. We plan to home-school year round and take family breaks when it makes sense for us vs. following the traditional school year. We’ve also been doing homeschool 4 days a week, leaving a day free for co-op activities when they start back up.

7:45-8:10 Spelling. We build words with letter tiles, learn spelling rules, practice words, and write phrases and sentences using All About Spelling. I let the kids use pencil and paper, whiteboards, or write on the windows with window markers for part of this because it’s fun.

8:10-9:00 Math. I alternate setting one kid up with a task, and then working with the other one as best as I can during this time. This is pretty much how I survive. I set up one kid with a task, and work with the other one, and then flip. They are learning to think about math in a visible way, and integrating multiple strategies to work flexibly with numbers.

9:00 Break/Snack. Zelie often goes down for a nap around now. Sometimes the kids will choose to do their coding or typing for the day around here as well. Sometimes they choose to do it after lunch.

9:30 Language arts. I work with August on his integrated reading/science/social studies unit while Felicity reads her assigned readings for the day. Then August moves into his independent choice reading time, and I support Felicity in her language arts. August usually finishes up, and then Felicity and I do her science/social studies to wrap up the day. We are usually finished between 11:00 and 12:00.

Each kid is responsible for practicing typing and coding each 3x per week at the moment, though we’ll increase that a bit over time. Felicity has a goal of practicing piano 5 days a week, but we don’t always hit that. We’re still working out the kinks and that’s okay considering how quickly we’ve made this shift. She often does this in the afternoon.

Then, we have lunch and the rest of the day the kids play outside, build things, play Minecraft, do art, etc. When things start to reopen, we anticipate being very active in the co-op, and taking field trips and visiting the library every week as well.

When I start officially working with Mary, I anticipate having the big kids work through their Typing, Coding, Piano, and Foreign Language mostly independently while I work with Mary, and then that we’ll focus in on the big kids’ math, language arts, and social studies/science unit after that so I can offer support. But currently, Zelie has toys set up that she can play with in our homeschool room, and Mary often joins us by playing with different manipulatives in an unstructured way. She also has a phonics DVD she can watch and she plays on Kahn Academy Kids for about 20 minutes or so.

And that’s about it!