The following is a post by contributor Amida of journey into unschooling.
So, how do you homeschool? This by far, is perhaps the most asked question regarding our schooling.
One day, upon learning that my children are homeschooled, a group of elementary school kids instantly bombarded them with questions concerning their education: What do you have to do? How long does it take to finish? Do you get recess? What do you eat at your homeschool? Who is your teacher?
I found it all very amusing, especially my son’s brief responses — everything, until we are done, yes, anything, Mom. I thought I’d take this moment to elaborate for him.
What do you have to do?
Well now, this is a big one. We are part of a charter school and in accordance to their rules, we have to document new learning in the areas of math, language arts, science, social studies, art and physical education every month.
How we do that, thankfully, is (mostly) up to us. There are some things, like math, that we do consistently, and follow the book from beginning to end. There are others, like art and science, where we pick a topic and spend a good chunk of an afternoon working on it.
And then there is history, which we do sporadically. We try following a chronological study of events, get bored of it, and take a break.
Or we read about a time period in a story and decide to do a unit study on that particular period instead. Recently, we read a story about Seabiscuit and his inspirational race during the Great Depression, so we took a detour and read up on that time period.
We never bother with official PE time because we get an hour of it a day in various classes.
Some days are “commute days,” where we spend a couple of hours in the car traveling back and forth between cities. Those days are awesome for listening to audio books.
Photo by Martin Pettitt
How long does it take you to finish?
It depends. Because we don’t schedule our school day into specific time slots, it can start and end whenever we feel like.
Some days, we get lots of work done after breakfast. Most days, we don’t get anything done until after lunch.
Sometimes, we have to bring work with us and work on them while waiting for a sibling in class. Other times, we get to read or draw or just hang out. And yes, there are those days we don’t get anything done at all. Mom figures it all balances out in the end.
Do you get recess?
Yes and no. Yes, there are breaks in the school day, but they are totally unstructured and not planned into a neatly boxed time of day.
More precisely, we get breaks from recess, and “do school,” so one might say anytime is recess. Is that wrong? I’m not sure, but I know we somehow get a good amount of work done by the end of each reporting cycle so Mom is OK with it.
What do you eat at your homeschool?
Good food! Leftovers are popular. On those “commute days,” we get lunch box food — sandwiches, snacks, fruits, soup — packed in a cooler and enjoyed in the car.
Recently, my mom has incorporated a cooking lesson into the week, at which time we have to make lunch. Unfortunately, eating at home also means we have to clean up afterwards. Apparently, that is part of the “lesson.”
Who teaches you?
Mom is the teacher. She is constantly scouring the internet and looking for new ideas. She doesn’t actually teach anything, but prefers that we research and learn about a topic on our own.
She is big on variety and will suggest different ways to approach an assignment based on mood, interest and the position of the moon in relation to Saturn. Sometimes, she gets way more excited by an idea than the person who actually has to do it.
She has a degree in writing and therefore assigns a colossal amount of writing assignments and is peeved when we don’t proofread them. When she reads about a newfangled idea, she immediately suggests it to us as an alternative to writing a boring report — we have made posters, travel brochures, online presentations, web pages, boardgames, models, mini-books, etc.
When we saw an opera on Madam Butterfly, she didn’t like the ending, so instead of having us write a summary of the story, she had us write an alternative ending.
Sometimes, she makes us “do something science” when we haven’t formally touched on the subject in a while. For instance, the other day, she handed out straws, strings, and a book on space frame structures and told us to build a few and tell her all about it (and then write about it, complete with diagrams).
When available, she lets us play with science kits with specific instructions to not blow up the house.
She likes to dedicate entire mornings to art and will forbid anyone from eating on the dining table that she had covered with plastic and art supplies.
When the projects are based on famous pieces, we have to read about the artist and write about it, even if it’s just one sentence. Sometimes, I don’t want to do art, but she insists it is awesomely fun and makes me do it anyway.
If I complain long enough, she lets me do math instead. It’s nice to know I have options.
What types of questions do you get about your homeschool?
Originally published on March 12, 2014.
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By far, the question I get most frequently is, “How do you teach them everything? What about the stuff you don’t know?” I then have to explain to them that the internet is our friend- and a good math curriculum helps as well. Sometimes that doesn’t satisfy them, but so far we’ve been just fine without me having 8 Phd.s
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This is the question I get as well. It’s well-meaning, but it gets old.
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My kids are also extremely brief answering these types of questions. One thing I get asked all the time is “how do you know what to teach them?” “Whatever they ask me a zillion questions about is usually a good place to start!” 🙂
My kids never know how to answer “what grade are you in?” They look at me blankly, guess, and are “wrong” at least half the time!
I love seeing other people’s homeschooling days!
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Reading this today helped me to breathe again….
Thanks for sharing your days!!
When my son is out and about with me during school hours, people always ask him why he is not in school today…he laughs and says “I am homeschooled and I am to smart for school” the reactions he gets are by far the Best!!
I Love him!!
Hi, I’m a non-homeschooled kid, and if he said that to ME, I would just tell him that I am in the vanguard program (in a non-offended way)
Wow. I like your take on homeschooling. I like that you let the kids do most of the discovering. I find kids learn more when they do it themselves.
Haha! This sounds a lot like me – and I would definitely eat those leftovers!!
So good to read about the homeschooling experiences of others. It helps!
The kids in our neighborhood are on Spring break this week – and we are not – so I’ve been getting lots of questions lately. The whole homeschooling thing seems to perplex the other kids around us. The most popular question seems to be – ‘How long does it take?’
I have 3 kids ages 4,5, 12. I really want to h.s. but I don’t know where to start. Please help
Start here, Gloria: http://simplehomeschl.wpengine.com/how-to-homeschool/ Blessings to you!
Haha! Thanks for the laugh and a peek into your day:)
Kids are funny! thanks for the fun perspective on your homeschool. 🙂
Most often I get asked, “how do you know you aren’t leaving anything out?”
My answer… it’s not possible to teach them everything there is to know. I teach them how to find answers and give them a love for learning. That lesson will carry them for a lifetime.
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We are in our first year. My eight year old daughter and I get the infamous, “Are you going back to real school next year.” My daughter tends to tell people she would rather be at home with me instead of going back to real school. The recent question I got was, “What is the difference between home school and regular school?” And my favorite comment I get from people is: “I couldn’t home school. I couldn’t be with my kids all day.” Little do they know if they valued their kids education and knew how much better homeschooling is they could do it. I giggle often at people and their comments and questions but ultimately Harmonie and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Love this! Thanks for the inspiration to not feel guilty when we don’t stay on routine. I guess I’m pretty traditional but you’ve given me more confidence to enjoy more of the freedom that homeschooling brings. Great post!
I like the idea of writing alternate endings. Will certainly use that in the future!
Hi, I’m a kid. And I wish that in our school they would actually give us “edible” school lunches and recess all the time. I think that homeschooled kids are lucky.
I’d love to know the ages of Amida’s kiddos. It always helps me to get a good gauge on how I can apply other people’s experiences to my own. Thanks!
The ones “responding” in this post were 7 and 12.
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Sounds just like our homeschool!
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priest's wife @byzcathwife
leftovers! This is so true….and my kids haven’t really learned to enjoy sandwiches 😉
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I loved the article & have definitely had similar questions asked of myself & children; however, our answers are a little different because we (traditionally) homeschool and are not bound by the material/ laws/ requirements presented by a charter school.
The local schools are taking standardized tests this week, so our kid neighbors were wondering when the boys take the tests and if they send them to our house or if they have to go up to the school. In our state the answer is thankful neither, no tests for us this year!
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