A Typical Day for a Homeschooling Mom
Growing dissatisfaction with the state of public education has led to a huge rise in homeschooled children. The United States now has 2.2 million homeschooled students, and that’s growing by 2 to 8 percent annually. It may be the fastest growing educational system at this point.
You’re considering jumping on the bandwagon but before you take the leap, you’re wondering what it all really entails. How do homeschooling moms do it?! And what’s it like for the kids? Let’s take a look at some homeschooling mom bloggers for some insights:
Opting for Homeschooling
Why would an already very busy mother or father decide to keep their kids at home all day and go back over their own grammar school years? The National Home Education Research Institute gives this very complete list and says that most people have more than one reason to homeschool. They want to:
- Customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child
- Accomplish more academically than in schools
- Use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools
- Enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings
- Provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults
- Provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, racism, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools
- Teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview to children and youth.
Homeschooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. Enough said. They also participate in civic affairs at a higher percentile rate. Seventy-six percent of homeschooled young people between the age of 18-24 voted in the last election, compared to only 29% of the rest of the population.
But What’s Your Day Like?
Heather Haupt, blogger-Mom from Dallas, Texas, begins the story of her day like this: “I love the idea of being spontaneous, but I’ve found that my children and I function best when there is routine.” Homeschooling parents in general discover this pretty quickly. At 8 a.m. Heather’s four children gather... dressed, fed, and ready for… “Circle Time”. Mom has chosen a special song to sing, they talk about what the day will bring, and sometimes go on a nature walk. Heather’s educational focus includes her religion, so Circle Time is when they have devotions.
Heather plans their individual learning time for 9 in the morning to noon. Depending on the child’s age and learning needs, they study, read, do paper-and-pencil workbooks, or listen to some instruction that she has for them. Things change, of course, as the children grow. “Now that my kids are getting older and I’ve transferred them to their own lesson plan checklists, I instruct them to do the things that don’t require my direct involvement.”
Learning Throughout the Morning
Many homeschooling moms, like Kari Patterson, get up before their kids so they can have a little bit of private time. It’s simultaneously amazingly great and incredibly hard to be with kids all day long and a little time alone is essential. She calls her approach “Classical Unschooling”, a “hodgepodge adventure we call homeschooling”. Unschooling has grown wildly in popularity since the 1970’s and many homeschooling families use it.
Unschooling is an educational method that uses student-driven activities as the primary path of learning. Kids get interested in subjects and their parent finds educational materials and guides the way. Kari’s two kids sometimes read their books to her through breakfast and then get down to “Learning Time” from 9 a.m. to noon. Some unschooling moms do not follow a set schedule and some do.
One child wants to read to himself while another child would prefer to be read to. A self-directed learning path evolves when the child who is interested in ancient civilizations decides he wants to make maps of them. Now we’re off into pencils, color, writing, proportion, and maybe some math too. Snack happens at 10 a.m. and then more academics. It could be practicing handwriting or doing kindergarten level workbooks. One child isn’t fond of handwriting practice sheets, “so I keep this time brief: 15-30 minutes.” Curriculum is truly individualized.
After eating lunch together, Kari and her children do what lots of other homeschooling moms do, take a trip to the library or the park, or to a meet-up with other homeschoolers – or just play and build things in the mud in the backyard. At 2 p.m. it’s Quiet Reading time and Mom does it too. The quiet rule may have to be enforced, and that’s fine. Sometimes quietness is a learned skill.
School’s over by 3 in public schools, and much before that for young kids. At a homeschool your child can go on satisfying his or her curiosities for the rest of the afternoon, reading, writing, or drawing. From 3 to 4 p.m. Kari’s school day becomes playtime until dinner prep calls. She is actively involved in the play, jumping around, or playing games with them. 4:30 is time for a house-meeting and prayer time before Mom starts dinner and Dad comes home. Lots of fun roughhousing when that happens.
A Different Way to Start the School Day
Author, entrepreneur, and avid homeschooling mom, Penelope Trunk has a different take on scheduling. She also believes that her kids should have a “customized education” which is self-directed and responds to their own intellectual curiosities. Each day is a self-directed day where her kids pursue what is interesting to them. That means that mom is finding resources for them, or teaching them how to find books and videos on their own. Her kids use technology from the start.
Penelope includes many blog posts on her website that deal with the emotional aspects of homeschooling for the moms. Subjects like “What happens when I’m bored with it?” or “What if my kids want to go back to school?” or “How to homeschool if you love going to work”.
What About Textbooks?
There are lots and lots of packaged curriculum guides, workbooks, and textbooks for homeschooling. They look great and certainly make a newbie feel confident in doing the job right. But most experienced homeschooling mom-bloggers will caution you about waiting to see if this style of education is a good fit for your family. And in the meantime, you can buy used textbooks from public school curriculum libraries or download educational materials from the many, many homeschooling websites.
Do you think you can manage a homeschooling schedule for your kids?