homeschooling year 3

September 16, 2013

homeschoolhomeschoolhomeschoolIt’s a homeschooling post that some of you have been patiently waiting for. Sorry for being so late in it! We’re in year 3. Year 3! Sometimes I thought I would never survive pass day 1. When we’re in the daily grind of schooling, it can feel overwhelming and then there are other times and I’m like, “Oh, I’m so glad I get to be here for this!” I get to see it all connect and click together, and watch as their curiosity continues. I’d be lying though if I didn’t mention that sometimes I want to throw in the towel and send them off to traditional school.

We have many whys of why we homeschool, but the main thing is this is what we feel is best for our family right now. Just like you will have some good and bad teachers at a traditional school, same with homeschooling, you will get some who are doing it right and some who might be better off sending their kids to traditional school. I’d like to think we’re mostly doing it right. I love having charge over what my kids learn and how they learn it. I have the time and flexibility to cater their learning to what best suits them. Also, we have the time and flexibility to explore subjects deeper because I don’t have to cater to the needs of 28 other students in the room. It’s just True and Brave. Besides homeschooling to build their knowledge and desire for learning, I love that it also gives us additional opportunities to build their character. Frankly, it builds mine as well. Homeschooling is also our way of holding (and shaping) their hearts a little bit longer.

Though I learn more about homeschooling every year we do it, I’ve had a lot of exposure to it in my past. I’ve seen my mom homeschool my younger siblings in their early elementary years and I was homeschooled part of my high school years. Not only that, I studied Child & Adolecent Development at a local state university and went on to receive my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and taught at a public school, so being a teacher is kind of my cup of tea.

I like that I’m able to utilize the skills and techniques I learned in college to help making learning fun and interesting for my girls. We are in a good school district, but our choice to homeschool is more of a calling for us. It is what we feel is best in how we want to shape the character, knowledge, and love for learning in our children. It’s the best choice for us right now, but it may change later. We’re not opposed to that possibility either.

I’d like to document more of what we do in our homeschooling, but when we’re in schooling mode, there isn’t time to snap pictures… I’m teaching, the girls are listening, we’re discussing, we’re writing, drawing, or doing things to help drive our learning home that I don’t really think about taking pictures. You will catch a few snapshots on instagram here or there when they’re doing some quiet work, but that’s been it so far.

We mainly follow the Classical Education model of learning and teaching (read about it here). That philosophy resonates well with me and the learning styles of my children. I recommend this book if you’re interested in learning about this particular method of homeschooling, as it has really helped shape our curriculum and our schooling. This one is a good one too. I also like to integrate a lot of books and literature into our learning and we base projects off of that. I think books are a really good way to connect subject areas together. I was totally all about that when I was in the classroom and I’m still loving it in our homeschooling.

How do my girls get social interaction? They go to swim classes, dance classes, we have a group of kids in our church family, and they go to enrichment classes for a full day (9-3:30pm) once a week with other homeschooling kids, so they get plenty of interaction with peers and other adults.

Here is a list of our curriculum choices (you can see last year’s curriculum in my FAQ page)…
Math: Singapore Math
Language: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 2
Writing: Writing with Ease Level 2
Reading: Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (Reading level is where True and Brave differ slightly since True is technically a grade older, but we’re almost done with the book)
Science: Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World (It’s basic but we throw in other resources and projects to beef it up)
History: The Story of the World Ancient Times (We’re almost done and will be heading to Medieval Times soon)
Cursive/Printing: New American Cursive and Handwriting Without Tears
Art: Let’s Make Some Great Art (It’s not a technical art curriculum, but I supplement it with additional books and projects to dive into the artists)

Through the program we are part of, we have a credentialed teacher meet with us monthly to make sure that we’re meeting our goals and to give support, we also have to turn in attendance. Though we homeschool, the girls are required to participate in the California standardized testing, and since True is now in second grade, this is the first year she will do it. Schooling is serious stuff, so the regular business side of it that is done at a traditional is also done in our homeschooling.

True and Brave are technically in different grades, True’s in second and Brave in first, but I do the same lessons with both of them, and I adjust things for their particular levels. The main difference between the two is that True has a bit more coordination in her writing and slightly ahead in reading levels, but Brave isn’t far behind. It’s great seeing them work together and help each other. They really bounce a lot of learning off each other and I love seeing them engaged and excited about a subject together.

We’re thankful for homeschooling. It isn’t for everyone, but it is for us (at least right now). If you have any questions about it, I’d love to try and answer them for you. I’ll share what a typical homeschooling schedule looks like for us in another post soon.

What are your thoughts on homeschooling? I’ve seen it done well and not so well, and I’m sure you have too, so people usually have a lot of commentary about it based on what they’ve seen in real life and in the blog world.

21 comments on “homeschooling year 3”

  • Sarah M says:

    We do so many similar books that you and the girls do! We love Usborne (Usborne and Kane Miller EVERYTHING–I used to sell their books so I have a lot of them in my stash :), we use Story of the World and Singapore. We love both. We just moved to Washington State about 7 months ago and my son just started an ‘alternative learning’ group that meets 2 blocks away from our house 3X a week. He only goes for 2 classes (just 2 hours on Tuesdays) but already I think it’s great. We didn’t know ANY homeschoolers from our town so this (along with the parents being there) has been wonderful. The program, which is through the PS, pays for our curriculum for the year, as well, which has been a huge blessing. We school year-round (I hate getting back to the routine after 3 months more than my kids did, so this is a happy medium) and we’re actually on break this week, since I’ll be heading out of a town for a few days later in the week!
    Some days I would give anything to have the local PS take my kids for a day, but most days I love our lifestyle and I love that we have so much freedom in our days. Those hard days just remind me that it’s time for a mama-break without kids period, that I need to recoup!
    Sarah M

  • katie says:

    Im so happy to see that homeschooling is working for you guys. I tried homeschooling my first grader last year but it was just so difficult that I ended up putting her back in school 6 months later. She definitely struggles with learning disabilities, which probably makes homeschooling that much harder. I was very hard on her as I think that as her mother I expected a lot from her. Take that in combination with her learning difficulties, it just didnt work. It was a very hard decision for me as I had put so much effort and time into researching books and materials for her. I was so excited and had many expectations. We too used the same history book as you but she had a very hard time following along. All the best to you and your girls!

    • Rubyellen says:

      I’m encouraged by your ability to discern what would be best. I imagine that was a tough decision and I’m sure you really wrestled with it. So far it’s working with the older two, but I don’t know yet if it will for the younger two. It’s a case by case basis sometimes because some kids personalities really will thrive in different environments. Thank you for the well wishes!

  • i love hearing your thoughts on homeschooling. i am a teacher & my husband really would like me to homeschool our future children. private schooling in our area is extremely expensive & our public school system is terrible, so homeschooling seems like a pretty good option! there are parts that i think i would like, but i am not 100% on board yet with the idea of this. i would love to see your schedule for a typical day. i also really love all the hands on things you do with your girls. a question i have is does your hubby play a role in the homeschooling as well? i know he does a lot of the gardening, which i think is such a great lesson for the girls. but besides that, does he do much else with homeschooling?

  • Nikki says:

    good luck and happy homeschooling!


  • rachel says:

    So I know this is super self-promotey, but last spring I spent sometime thinking about my reasons for homeshcool. I didn’t go in depth about what we do, but if you ever have a chance, maybe you’d like to check it out. I really like thinking about my whys.
    Anyhow, here’s the link:

  • I am homeschooled. I’m a junior in high school. I think it’s a good thing, but at times i wish i could actually go to school. I like that I can work at my own pace, as I would probably need more time for math, and less for other subjects, so that is helpful.


    • Rubyellen says:

      Thank you for your comment Rachel! I’d love to hear more of your experience and thoughts on it. What is it that draws you to traditional school and what is your reason to continue to homeschool? I was homeschooled from sophomore to senior year in high school, but I did my math and science classes at a local private school, so I felt like I was somewhat part of a school. It was way too hard to do calculus and physics at home, so I’m glad my parents enrolled me in a school for those classes. How long have you been homeschooling?

      • rachel says:

        Sorry, I just saw your reply. My kids have only been homeschooled. Sena is in third grade and Gus is in first, and Arlo’s a baby. I was homeschooled from 7th to 10th, then started at community college for the rest of high school. I’m teaching at a traditional high school mostly for the money. I know that sounds awful, but the county pays really well and the health insurance is great. I started so that we could send my husband through law school, but I’ve stayed because I love it (and we still need the money). I hope to stay home full time next year, but I will definitely come back to teaching high school when my kids are grown because I love it. I know it is really corny and cliche, but I feel like I am really able to make a difference with some of these kids. I know my own children will be fine; they are smart, intellectually curious, and have a loving, supportive family. I can’t say the same for my students.

  • jen says:

    thank you for this post =) i’m a former-grade-school-teacher-turned-full-time-stay-at-home-mom, as well, though we have just our one two-and-a-half year old son right now. we’re just getting into touring preschools, getting on waiting lists, and thinking about the kind of education AND childhood we want him to have… your post is all great food-for-thought, thanks again!

    p.s. sorry about all the hyphens, lol =P

  • I like that you teach them the same thing but adjust it for both of them. I can’t do that with mine since they are further apart in age, but I teach them the same Bible lessons and sometimes give them different activities for that lesson! Nice job! I love McGuffy because it is so advanced for today’s child but so needed! I use it too here and there, but as a background portion.

  • Lauren D says:

    Thank you so much for this. We are just starting out and it is always helpful to see what others are doing 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Thanks for sharing your resources! I just started classically homeschooling our 4 year old (with two more little ones behind). I’d love to hear more. 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    Thank you for sharing! We are new to homeschooling, just doing preschool now, but getting excited about continuing this journey. I love reading about others experiences, curriculum and seeing classrooms/learning spaces. I am curious what you do/did to entertain soul and glow while you teach the older girls? I have a one year old and I feel like he just putts around while I try to focus and work with my daughter. Or he needs me and learning time just doesn’t happen. One great thing, for him I think, is that he seems to want to get involved in some of our learning (drawing, music, games) it’s great to see him already learning, I just don’t want him to feel neglected the rest of the time.

  • Jocy says:

    Congrats on Year 3! Honestly, I don’t have any experience with home schooling. I’m aware that there’s a stigma attached to it. But having no family of my own yet, I don’t really have any input – only interest and curiosity. The fact that you have an education background is definitely a plus. Good luck with it all!

  • Katie says:

    I like getting to hear how others are teaching their children especially through homeschooling. I was homeschooled all my life – preschool through graduating high school. I really liked it and while there are some things in high school that I kind of wish I could have experienced, I think overall homeschooling was the perfect thing for me. I’m not sure if I will homeschool my future children but you never know. Congratulations on year three and here is to many more years of teaching for you!

  • Krisztina says:

    I like elements of the Classical Education, we did Classical Conversation for almost 3 years. I love those old fashioned readers on the pics. But this year we are taking a break from homeschooling… I already miss it…

  • janis says:

    hi ruby! i had never heard of classical education before you posted it. after reading some of the links you posted, i have to say i’m surprised to hear that it really resonates with you. you seem like a very artistic person and do lots of neat, creative things with your kids. so like i said, i’m surprised that you align yourself with a perspective that stresses rote memorization and purely language based learning, without the use of visuals. i am a teacher myself and i have to say those two aspects of classic education really rub me the wrong way. i think it’s so important for kids to be able to conceptualize and visualize math concepts, such as addition/subtraction and addition/multiplication, rather than being able to just spout off the times tables. also, many kids are much more visual learners than linguistic learners. does classical education accommodate for that?

    not trying to stir anything up, just interested in your thoughts on this!

    • Rubyellen says:

      Hi Janis! Sorry, I’m just getting to your comment now, but I definitely did want to address your thoughts. I could see how classical education might rub you the wrong way and seem like a surprising choice considering how much I value creativity in our home.

      I love the systematic way classical education breaks down the various stages of learning. Though I do lean towards more creative things, I’m also still very structured and organized. Classical education accommodates my teaching style and I’ve seen it work well for the ways my girls learn. While it focuses on language right now, I still definitely include a lot of self-expression and creativity. There is a lot of memorizing, but it’s all done in song and poetry. Also, since I’m a visual learner and I know my girls are too, we do a lot of pictorial graph charts. I take the base of classical education and cater it to fit our learning styles. We do hands-on projects and I still very much extend the lessons to include more creative ways to help them understand a certain idea or topic.

      Also, while it does focus on memorization, the math curriculums suggested for use to follow the classical education method all use a lot of manipulatives and games to go along with the lessons. I totally agree that concepts can’t be fully learned and understood just based on memorization, especially when it comes to math. I particular like how classical education gives the foundation of facts at this stage, next it will allow them to see cause and effect, then they can learn how to debate it after. For me, the foundation of facts is very important but I also do extend lessons to include creativity because I know my daughters do well when they’re able to take the facts they learn and turn it into a creative activity.

      For the most part, I think all the methods of learning can easily be adapted in various ways, even if you don’t agree wholeheartedly with a particular method. In addition, each method with need to be adapted even further to cater to their strengths, weaknesses, and interests of each child. I hope this helps explain classical education and how we do it in our home a bit more. Would love to hear more about any particular methods you find appealing to you!

  • karen thaco says:

    I do not know what you commented on a post and I did not see it . There is a rule with the state of california to exercise homeschooling ? Here in Texas, we must not even notice or anything else, there is something legal to do?

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