Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interview with a mom who homeschools

I'm so excited to bring another interview today! This is one from a dear friend and mentor of mine. I've known their family for a number of years now. They definitely are a family I look to as a model of peace and simplicity in the home!

If any of you would like to contact this friend with further questions or thoughts, please contact me info(at)babygetgreen.com and I'll pass it on to her. As you'll see with the answers below, they are a very open family who share their journey of how God is leading them. I hope you enjoy reading their answers as much as I did!

Did you always know that you wanted to homeschool your children? If not, what was the process of making that decision?
I really did not plan to homeschool, or not to homeschool. However, when my youngest was about 3 years old I began to sense a strong leading from the Lord to homeschool. Once I sensed this conviction I began to pray about it and discuss it with my husband. This leading continually got stronger and clearer. I simply could do nothing but homeschool. It was not in any way a 'head' decision, not one based on all the reason to/or not to homeschool, it was clearly just an issue of following this strong sense of leading God was/is showing me.

I've heard of different types of homeschooling – unschooling, using curriculum at home, going to an outside school part time – what does homeschooling look like for your family?
I would have to say we are kind of a mix of things. I like to say we are 'eclectic.' Every year looks very similar, yet very different. In other words, we have certain styles of learning that we keep, and yet we might add or subtract a certain type of learning from year to year. In general we follow a classical education/Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. This style looks like this.... We do have a schedule, a daily schedule and a yearly schedule, along with goals for our children that we yearly (sometimes more often) review and pray over. Our schedule is a guide, and is flexible enough to accommodate changes, sickness, a good opportunity for learning, vacation, etc....or just plain needing to take a break.

On a daily basis we generally school from around 8:00am until 2:00pm. However, as with our overall schedule we flex and bend with the day. We start the day with family devotions and prayers. The rest of the day includes individual and group learning. Individual subjects (where they work on specific tasks, with workbooks, computer programs,etc...) include math, Language arts (writing, spelling, grammar, reading, etc...), Geography, art, and other miscellaneous subjects. In our group learning time we spend time reading good books that relate to areas of social studies, science, world history, American History and Michigan History. We call these literature units, as they are based on reading good literature together and then exploring the topics in various additional ways.

During the day we also engage in everyday household needs, like cooking, laundry, wash and general personal chores. This year we are doing our homeschooling 4 days a week. We complete 4 solid days of learning and then we spend the 5th day of the week attending a homeschool co-op. The co-op consists of a group of homeschooling families that meet together to share knowledge and fellowship with each other and our families. It is a day of classes for the kids that enable them to interact with other homeschooling families/kids in classes that are taught mainly by other homeschooling parents. The classes range from Physical Education, to math, to fieldtrips, to Sign Language. Every co-op session provides the opportunity for a different list of classes.

Whew! I hope I answered that question in a way that was helpful.:)

How do you schedule your days so that you are able to get school work done – is there designated time that you work on school and than other stuff or does it all happen together throughout the day?
Well, I guess I got ahead of the questions. See my answer for question number 2.:)

After doing this for a number of years, how is it going? What is your favorite part (for you and your kids)? Do you have a least favorite part?
Our oldest is now eleven years and counting, and our youngest is almost 8 years old. We love it.

I have to say the greatest benefit to homeschooling, though there are many, is the quality and quantity of time we spend together as a family. We are able to really invest in each other, learn together, and truly take part in all the joys of watching each other grow and blossom through the seasons of life.

My least favorite part would probably be the preparation time...the time this takes me away from my family. Furthermore, the great responsibility of making sure we are honoring each child's individual needs and styles of learning, while keeping the greater goals we are aiming to meet for them/us...all the while keeping the state/national requirements in sight. This is when I/we again must pray and make sure we are trusting the Lord to give us wisdom, direction and provision in this way of learning, this way of life.

How did you know that this was the best option for your family?
As I mentioned above, it was a strong, not to be ignored sense of direction. I knew no other way than to walk forward in it.

What encouragement can you give to moms who are trying to decide if homeschooling is the best option for their family?
Pray, pray and pray some more. Trust what you sense God leading you to do....no matter if it is homeschooling, public school, private school, any kind of learning. Trust and obey...for there is no other way.

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