Welcome to the next installment of my series in which we meet real-life homeschoolers who give us a glimpse into their families and school lives. I’ve had this series on my heart for a while, and the more I find myself telling people that we’ve started homeschooling, that I’m not a super-patient person, and that I’m not at all phased by socialisation, the more I want to show what homeschooling really looks like.
Today, we meet mom of five, Suzanna, from Wonder Filled Days.
1. Tell us a bit about your family.
I’ve been married to my wonderful husband Paul for sixteen years. We have four boys- ages 15, 13, 11, and 7 and a sweet little girl that just turned one. The boys are all good friends (though they have their squabbles) and they absolutely adore their little sister. I credit the good family relationships to the fact that we homeschool. We also served in a very remote part of West Africa as missionaries for 6 years and I think that really drew our family together.
2. Who does the majority of the teaching?
I do the formal teaching in our home but my husband is great with taking teachable moments from a conversation we’re having, or a book we’re reading out loud as a family and using those as a springboard to teach the boys about all sorts of things. He’s also good at challenging them to do things that I wouldn’t have thought possible. Maybe it’s more of a dad trait for a dad to expect a lot out of his sons. My husband also teaches them skills like woodworking and hunting.
3. How long have you been homeschooling?
My oldest son is in tenth grade now, so at least that many years.
4. What led you to choose homeschooling?
There really was never a question about whether we’d homeschool or not. I love having my children with me. I love teaching them with God-honoring material that builds their faith and prepares them to answer the skeptics that they are sure to encounter in life. I’m glad that they can escape all the negative peer-pressure in schools. I had enough negative experiences in school (and that was years ago, how much worse is it now?) that I don’t want to expose my children to that.
5. What is your homeschooling approach? (Unschooling, eclectic, etc.)
I never thought much about what homeschooling approach we use. I think it would be the closest to a Charlotte Mason approach. We use mainly Heart of Dakota for our schooling. They are a literature based program that emphasizes unit studies, oral and written narrations (above worksheets and tests), and a lot of hands-on projects (especially in the younger grades). I really like Heart of Dakota because they use so many great resources that I wouldn’t get around to if they weren’t scheduled out for me and they include things like poetry and art and music appreciation, but everything is broken up into short segments to make it more manageable.
6. What does a typical school day look like for you?
We try to have breakfast at seven. After breakfast we have a time of family singing and Bible reading until eight. My husband is usually there for that.
After that we start school. I spend the first few hours with my seven-year old son. We do the subjects together that he needs my help for – history, science, story-time, bible, and art. He can do his math, and handwriting more independently but I’m usually right there if he has questions. We also do his English mostly orally because handwriting is not easy for him. He’s actually really good with reading and math so this year we’ve been focusing a lot on handwriting and learning fine motor skills.
The older boys are more independent, but I like to have check-in times with each of them throughout the day and there are certain subjects that we do together so they need my help for those. We break for lunch around noon and then finish whatever we have left in the afternoon. My oldest son is in 10th grade so our days have definitely been getting longer.
7. What response did you get from friends/family when sharing your decision to homeschool?
A lot of our friends and family homeschool so it was no surprise that we decided to homeschool, too. There actually would have been more surprise if we hadn’t.
8. What has been most surprising and/or rewarding about homeschooling?
It’s very rewarding for me to watch my children grow and develop their own interests. Maybe I could say one of the most surprising things has been how different each child is. One child might be really neat and artistic, another child is very hands-on and loves to figure out how things work, and the next child is a whiz at math and spelling but can’t figure out where to put the nose on a stick-man (yes, this has happened; it ended up above the eyes). They each have their strengths and weaknesses and I’ve enjoyed seeing them grow in both of these areas.
I’ve also loved teaching them how to read. It was a highlight with each of my four sons, and I’m really looking forward to teaching my daughter.
9. What has been most challenging?
There are a few things I can think of. It’s been a challenge being patient when one of my boys isn’t getting a concept- whether it’s in math or in drawing. I really have to work on keeping the experience positive and not getting exasperated sometimes.
I also feel like this year we’ve had more of a struggle staying focused and on schedule. I know that there are several things that I could do to help with this. The two main ones would be to have an easy lunch planned and to stay off of my phone and computer. It’s amazing how much time those two things can eat up of my forenoon. And with teaching four, I really can’t afford to lose time. Another thing that hasn’t helped is that recently we started a family side business selling these really amazing building planks. Having baby girl underfoot has also been a distraction.
10. What advice would you give to parents considering or just beginning their homeschooling journey?
I would tell them to stop worrying that their children will miss out if they don’t go to a brick-and-mortar school. They will have the most important thing when they are being taught at home and that is your love and influence in their lives. And if any time you feel like there is something you can’t provide for them, there are so many resources available to fill in. There are a lot of opportunities available to homeschoolers to take part in speech, or drama, or music if that is something your child wants to pursue. And as you get to the older grades there are so many resources available for higher science and math, if you feel like you aren’t qualified for that.
I would also tell them to stop worrying if they’re qualified to teach their children. No one knows your children like you know them. No one is more interested in their welfare than you.
And always keep in mind that schooling is not so much to cram as much learning as possible into your children in twelve years; it is to foster a love for learning in them so that they will continue to learn and teach themselves all their lives.
Thank you, Suzanna, for giving us a glimpse into your homeschool life.
Find Suzanna online in these places:
If you would like to be featured in this series, please contact me by leaving a comment or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was shared at Hearts For Home Blog Hop and #LearningKid Linkup.