Homeschooling: You Can Do It!

Getting eaten by a dinosaur, my daughters Emily and Louisa at a science museum field trip.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with homeschooling? Have you just made the decision to homeschool and wonder how to jump in to this adventure? Could it be one of those days when you’d like to pack your kids into the van and drop them off at the registration desk of the local p.s. (public school)?

We all have those days! Well, most of us. I know some moms who seem to have been born with a “Homeschool Mom” badge on (you know who you are!) but for most of us, there are those days! I think we all struggle to juggle all our duties: mom, wife, homeschool teacher, church member/worker, good neighbor, and more. But as you get organized and catch the vision, it gets lots easier and the fun will outweigh the “overwhelm”.

Come with me and build your homeschool from “survival” to “super”! Each day can get better. Nobody gets there overnight. It takes practice to learn to homeschool well. I’ve been at it for 20+ years and finally feel like I am beginning to get a little comfy in my teacher’s “hat”. . . and suddenly I’m running out of kids to homeschool! I would feel it a privilege and an honor to be a part of strengthening your family and your homeschool!

These are easy little assignments, but if you take them seriously, you’ll notice a difference in the climate of your homeschool immediately. It will get happier. More fun. You’ll enjoy your children more. They will think homeschool is great.

We’ll eventually work on: setting up a schedule, creating a teaching plan, disciplining and getting respect for mom as teacher, motivating kids to happily do their work, making teaching and learning fun, and more. We’ll go with easy steps. You’ll see that YOU CAN DO IT!

The rewards?
*getting to know and like and love your kids
*learning something yourself (I have a college degree but I definitely learned what I know in homeschool, not in college!)
*greater family unity
*teens who listen to your advice because they’ve grown up respecting you
*academic excellence of which you will be amazed!
*more mature kids who are not so prone to peer pressure
*stronger faith in God and less worldliness
*upbeat happiness in your home!

YOU CAN DO IT! Your love for your child makes you the most qualified teacher.

Diane Hopkins

P.S. As soon as you do Homeschooling Assignment #1 , you can move on to #2, and so forth. Just don’t overwhelm yourself. One assignment a week will do, or you can plan to do a few a week. I just don’t want you getting stressed and feeling like you have to do more and more. You are already doing quite a bit, just to be involved in homeschooling (whether you are just starting, or “keeping on”). So, keep up what you are doing, and try to add one assignment at a time until you and your family feel the benefit and think you want more.

Laugh with Me


I just explained a writing assignment to my darling daughter Louisa who is 8 years old. It said, ” describe a family problem and give your advice how to solve it”.

Louisa responded with great enthusiasm, “Oh, that’s easy! We have LOTS of family problems!”

Out of the mouth of babes. . . .

What to Do with a Restless Little Boy?

I find it a rather interesting fact that 80% of all homeschooled children are boys. That makes a definite statement about the inability of most little boys to sit in desks and endure the regimentation of public school. Little boys are wiggles and adventure. Sitting in a desk for hours on end sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to an energetic little man.

What can be done with those particular little boys that can’t seem to do well in homeschool either? It seems that in the past 14 years of homeschooling my children, I have rotated in and out of having a restless little boy many of those years. It gets very tempting to consider public school, especially when I have a baby. Public school seems like a good solution until you really study it out.

Advantages of Sending Your Restless Boy to Public School:
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
4. He would have other children to play with and tousle with, teaching him how to act and get along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.

Let’s Consider Each “Advantage”
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
Mothers are to be about the vital business of teaching and nurturing the precious children that God has entrusted to them. You love him more than any other person on this earth loves him, and you care about his daily doings. No teacher could rouse the same amount of interest or concern for his success. Just because he is out of your hair doesn’t mean that he is no longer totally your responsibility. Often the problems school creates only stress and strain your relationship further, putting more pressure on you. Your son can easily sense why he was put in school. Instead of feeling loved and wanted, he will feel that he is a problem too great for you to handle. Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes lots of time and devotion, but it pays big dividends. Never give up!

Besides, maintaining your homeschool plus keeping up with the needs, demands, and homework of public school is extra exhausting.

2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
Fat chance. If you haven’t been able to teach and guide your son to be on time and prepare ahead of time, the problem will only get worse with going to school. In homeschool you can be patient and lead him along. If he attends public school, it will be a mad dash to get out the door and a scramble to complete homework every school day for the rest of the school year. Talk to mothers who have their children in public school and ask specifically about the morning get-off-to-school stuff. I think you will hear that it is a crazy race to get out the door and that family prayer, a nutritious breakfast, hugs and kisses and other important beginnings to the day are often shrugged off in the hurry of it all. As far as homework goes, I spent several years helping my sons get their homework done after school before we discovered homeschooling, so I have a bit of experience. I firmly believe that it is much easier to teach them a concept in homeschool than it is to try to plow through their homework with them, explaining information (with no idea of how the teacher presented it in class) at the time of day when parents are most exhausted.

3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
It is not the school’s job to train up your child. Besides, even if the school could accomplish it, you wouldn’t like the job they did it. Their values are very different from your Christian way of life. The job of training children is best done at home, at an early age. If your little guy is still struggling with obedience, you are the best teacher and home is the best setting. Whatever problems he has at home will just be magnified at school. He will be labeled a troublemaker or a difficult child. The fear of a new situation may make him behave for a few days, but then he will begin to struggle with the same behavior that caused problems in homeschool. Home is the place to learn obedience from a tireless, consistent, loving mother. (God grant us the strength!)

4. He would have other children to play with and tussle with, teaching him how to act and get along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
Although I think it is important to have other children to play with and interact with, don’t count on public school for enriching your child’s social life. For one thing, you can control the type of friends your son associates with while he does homeschool. But in public school, often children who are restless fit right in with children who have lower standards and less self-discipline. You won’t like the language, play or dress codes that your son will quickly pick up in school. Although it seems like it would drain his energy to roughhouse with other boys, generally it only makes them wilder. Constructive play such as rigorous sports or building a tree house can divert that restlessness. When my boys were young, they dug long tunnels and built teepees and forts. They dragged themselves in from their work/play exhausted. Boys thrive on heavy chore jobs such as carrying wood or hoeing the garden, masculine jobs that need a boy’s muscles and strength to complete. Hobbies such as tying knots, whittling or woodworking can also keep him busy and happy. These are productive ways to channel your son’s energy.

When my sons needed social life, I looked for an older boy who was strong in the gospel for my boys to look up to, someone who could teach them new skills. When my son Daniel was younger he learned to operate a CB radio, connect to the Internet and compose music on the computer from older boys who appreciated having an interested listener and learner. Mark learned to raise chickens and grow a garden from men in our church who enjoyed sharing their wisdom. True socialization comes from following in the footsteps of someone older and wiser who models just how to behave.

5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.
There are more important things to learn than academics, such as the fact that Jesus loves you and died for you, that you need to treat your baby brother gently, to speak respectfully to your parents, to brush and take care of your teeth and health in general, to be patient and attentive to the sick and aged, to remember to feed your pets and be kind to animals, to shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk without pay, and other crucial basics to a happy life.

In addition, consider how public school will teach your son academics. If much of the work will be listening to lectures or doing worksheets while sitting quietly in a desk, your child is likely destined to be a failure. Restlessness in homeschool can be accommodated by hands-on learning, frequent exercise breaks, and alternate ways of gaining knowledge such as watching a video, playing a math game, tutoring little ones or doing a science experiment rather than just reading and filling in worksheets.

Food and Discipline
There are a few other things to consider when dealing with a restless little boy. Food allergies can wreck havoc with a child’s ability to sit still and pay attention. Although I feel cautious about “blaming” food for such trouble, I do think it is worth observing. My 6-year-old son Ammon (who is currently the restless little boy in our homeschool) would pay attention and write his letters fastidiously neatly on certain days. Other days, his letters and numbers would be sloppy and backwards. After several weeks of watching, I decided that he was eating peanut butter and whole wheat bread for breakfast on the mornings that school went poorly. Removing whole wheat (difficult to do!) and peanut butter from his diet resulted in a more peaceful homeschool for Ammon, although it didn’t solve the problem entirely.

Lack of discipline and hyperactivity look very similar in behavior. I often think strictness and consistency on the part of the parents of restless boys might be more effective than Ritalin in many cases. Boys particularly seem to push limits and struggle with learning self-control. Without proper discipline, most little boys are a whirlwind. If you think lack of self-discipline is causing the problem with your little boy, help him learn little by little to control himself. I like reading my children a story from Little House in the Big Woods (pg. 87, chapter entitled “Sundays”) about what self-control little pioneer children were expected to have, to the point of not even laughing on Sunday. Talking about exactly what is expected behavior in home school helps too. For example, when my little guy sits upside down on the couch (meaning head down and feet up) during school, I tell him that had he gone to public school when I was a child, my teacher Mr. Bowen would have hit him with a hickory stick for that trick. Today’s school teacher may have sent him to the principle or held him in from recess. I am not excessively strict on how they sit or what they say during homeschool, but I do feel you must keep order and children must learn not to burst out with whatever pops into their head to say. Judging on some children’s actions that I observe at church, perhaps I expect better behavior than the public schools do.

Remember that your mischievous little boy is first and foremost God’s child, and God loves and values him greatly. Pray for help! If you don’t know what to do next, He knows. Lay claim to His promise: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:17–18). “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” If we pray with full energy of heart, He will grant us pure love for our restless little boy. God will change our irritation and annoyance to understanding and charity. He will plant in our mind a strategy, ideas to help this child grow and become that man that He designed him to be. Remember you are the key figure in this plan. Mother forms and shapes the child more than any other influence. Your approval and love is crucial. It is true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Wisdom from Jefferson

Wisdom from Jefferson

Here’s 10 wonderfully wise maxims from Thomas Jefferson. I’d like my children to memorize these!

A Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life

by Thomas Jefferson
February 25, 1825

1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.

2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

3. Never spend your money before you have it.

4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap;
it will be dear [expensive] to you.

5. Pride costs us more than huger, thirst, and cold.

6. We never repent of having eaten too little.

7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.

9. Take things always by their smooth handle.

10. When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

Love,
Diane

An Educational Approach

How does one come up with their own educational approach? Shouldn’t that be in place before you even attempt to homeschool?

When homeschooling mothers ask me these questions, I always suggest that they just jump in and do something—don’t try to decide on an approach or a curricula at first. When you make the decision to move to a new area, you don’t have to buy the house the day you arrive. You can rent or stay in a motel for awhile and check things out and you will make a better decision that way. You don’t have to make decisions on what type of stroller, crib and college education before the baby is born and you see what the actual need is.

The same goes for homeschooling. Just start a daily time together doing whatever comes to your mind. You may want to pledge allegiance to the flag, sing a song, read a story aloud to them (or, better yet, a few stories), chart the weather, play a math game, or take a nature walk. You could do some art, some science experiences. Mostly, enjoy being together. As you get a little routine going, you will be able to study out what works best with your children, what they enjoy, what they don’t like, and your educational approach will be in the making!

“First we have a relationship, and then we have an educational method” is one of my favorite homeschool quotes. Work on that relationship by becoming the teacher in their eyes (plus foremost, their beloved mother). Make a chart and stick it on the wall so that they can see you are in charge and are going to dependably make this wonderful thing happen. I am just going to invent one quickly here for young children, but you do it anyway you like:

“Our Happy Homeschool”

-9:00 Begin (come dressed, chores done)
-Pledge, Song, Prayer
-Exercise (jumping jacks, windmills, run once around the house)
-Chart the weather
-Phonics (games preferably)
-Subject of the day (Mon: Science, Tues: History, Wed: Art, etc.)
-Walk or play outside (30 min)
-Math (hands on is best, teach the concepts with toys, beans, whatever you have on hand)
-Story time
12:00 Cooking (kids help make lunch)

As you consistently stick with your schedule, you can begin to explore curriculum options based on how your children are responding. For example, perhaps your child finds a lizard outside and shows a lot of interest. Try using library books and finding books on different kinds of lizards, or the anatomy of lizards. Get a documentary or science movie at the library on lizards. Go to a museum or pet shop and see lizards. Explore the topic thoroughly. As you do, you will find what approach works best for your kids (and works for you as a teacher and mother). You will be able to decide how to teach science most effectively. Will the children enjoy the foundation gained through using a textbook? Will they do better on library books with a theme each week? Would keeping a nature sketchbook that they draw in be exciting to them? Is there a hands-on science program that will work for you? This is how you grow into your educational approach.

Some kids love workbooks and keep things neat and orderly. Others must be doing, moving, handling something to really learn it. I have had children who just wanted to be left alone with their math book and emerged later with nice, neat papers and few mistakes. I have a daughter right now who is so deadened by a math textbook that I have found the best approach with her is for me to take the math book and read over the concept myself and then sit at the kitchen table with her and use whatever is on hand (crayons, paper clips, buttons, etc.) to show her how the concept works and have her handle and do it herself before ever writing down a number. Then, when we do transfer the concept to numbers, I write just one problem in big numbers with markers on a whole piece of paper. After a few of these single problem pages, she grasps it and retains it! This is her learning style and it works very well for her. It did take us quite awhile to arrive at it. But now that we know what works for her, math is interesting, like a puzzle solved. She retains the info, she can do the rest of the problems herself, and we avoid the tears that used to accompany learning math.

So, when it comes to planning the new school year, please don’t pour any concrete yet. Set up your schedule with an ever willing-to-adjust attitude. It takes being flexible and observant to meet our kids needs and make learning a wonderful experience. And as you yield to their learning styles, you will come up with your own unique educational approach!

Enjoy!
Diane

Inspiration

Teens

Would You Homeschool an Only Child?

Question:

Would you homeschool an only child? I am homeschooling my 6 year old son and most of the time it is wonderful. We stay very busy running here and there so he can be with other children. Even still, at times, there is some isolation and I wonder if it is the ideal choice for him?

Answer:

I’ve tried both worlds (public school and home school) and here is what I deeply believe: young children need to be in the security and moral environment that home provides, with a loving mother teacher. No school can replace that. No education can surpass that. It is not available in any other way, and nothing can make up for a lack in those beginning foundational years. They form the child’s character, his view of the world, his testimony of God, his feelings about his own self worth, his habits. As a wise leader said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”.

Children need mommies—that is the way God set it up to be. No one loves your child as much as you do. No one cares as much as you do if he grasps a math concept or holds his pencil correctly. Those are small things, but the big things–faith in God, respect for authority, self-discipline, manners, compassion–these things are best taught by someone who loves the child more than life itself. Generally, only one person qualifies for that job description and it is YOU, mother.

Now, on the practical side, it is mother’s job to make sure her multi-dimensional child is getting his needs met: spiritual, mental (academic), physical, social and emotional. And that requires much more than just following an academic program. Homeschooling really should be called “home nurturing” in my opinion, because to grow a child, you have to concern yourself with all elements. If you choose to use the public school to fulfill the mental (academic) and social needs of your child, you are still in charge of the rest, and there is precious little time left after school to nurture them, particularly if you have to do some “undoing” of habits or attitudes that have been picked up in a peer dependent environment. I think it is possible to raise a wonderful child using the public schools. It just requires so much more work, and there are far more casualties! I am not a big risk taker when it comes to my children.

Isolation is a very real issue, and it is not good for children. However, I do believe children need more unstructured time, even time alone, than we realize. Those are the times when you get to know yourself, to think, to dream . . . plus to develop ways to keep yourself happy and involved (hobbies, reading). But too much isolation from other people makes kids sad and lonely. Mom is great, but Mom is not enough. For some children, siblings are not enough either. For these children, it is up to a homeschooling mother to create play groups, attend a support group, get involved in a co-op school, set up a “club” for their child where other children come weekly to learn a skill (art club, horse riding club, etc.).

So what does school away from home provide? Is it worth it in your child’s case? That is the question that you have to ponder and work through. If you see that public school can do something for your child that he needs, then your options are to put him in to get that need met (perhaps part time) or to meet that need yourself.

For myself, here are the answers I came up with, both negative and positive traits of public schooling, all mixed together:

Public School:

Academic/Mental

  • easy on Mom because the responsibility for their learning is left with the school
  • child gets another teacher figure in their life besides mom, which may be helpful
  • kids may work better for another teacher
  • moves at a slower rate . . . wow, much slower!
  • takes the fun out of learning because of the “hurry and wait” mentality
  • hard to specialize learning to each child’s level; child gets lost in the crowd
  • better than nothing, if that is what you are teaching in your home school due to sickness, overload, lack of education of the mother, lack of time, etc.
  • homework can take up the evenings, and you end up teaching them anyway, only under duress and not the stuff you wanted to teach them, generally.
  • bells or schedules can interrupt true learning and teach children not ever to get deeply involved.

Spiritual

  • offers zilch as far as learning to know God, to trust God, to keep his commandments
  • school may have some rules on manners or respect for authority that would teach an unruly child if their own mother was not able
  • if teacher reads classic literature to the class, there may be some worthy truths taught in those stories
  • figure that early American history will be dished up without one mention of God’s amazing intervention in our behalf!
  • no teacher can tell the real stories of how George Washington was “bulletproof” and God-protected, according to his enemies, and how his the answer to his prayer at Valley Forge made us Americans rather than Englishmen today.
  • remember that Humanism is the religion of the school.

Physical

  • school is not the environment to nurture healthy eating habits
  • candy abounds, is used to reward kids
  • lunch is the time to compare who has the best junk food
  • kids are rushed to eat in a noisy environment and don’t really eat a full meal, a lot of food is just thrown away
  • a packed lunch is a test of “cool”. Socially acceptable=pudding cups, fruit snacks (that are really thinly disguised gummy type candy), chips, candy bars, cheetos, soda pop to drink (I am not kidding!)
  • group games, sports at P.E. is fun for them and gives them exercise (usually not daily, however)
  • learn to play as a team
  • “Say ‘No’ to Drugs” program (might teach them more than I want them to know, however!)
  • physical body reigns supreme (rather than moral character and goodness)—lots of emphasis on beauty, body, prowess in sports, coordination, decorating the body with name brands, styles
  • sitting for long periods
  • go out in fresh air daily to run around for recess, which is more than some homeschool kids get

Social/Emotional

  • school is where the kids are, most definitely
  • there are good kids in every class, so there is possibility for finding friends
  • peer dependency is sick and affects every word and action
  • a good teacher can teach a child to be orderly, quiet, diligent in completing their work
  • lots of negative stuff comes from the kids, as many American children have been raised on PG13 movies, and other worldly influences
  • to be cool, you have to be in the know (movies, TV, music, pop stars, fads)
  • lots of practice on getting along, which is a good thing
  • lots of practice on tolerance of other people and their beliefs and mannerisms
  • bullies
  • even though much of the socialization is negative, kids are around other kids at school
  • bad behavior is not condemned (cattiness, sticking out tongue, burping aloud, making rude comments,
  • criticizing others, laughing when someone is hurt, etc.)
  • group mentality nearing hysteria takes over at times. For example, if the teacher asks the group a question, children look around to see what their peers are saying, rather than thinking for themselves.
  • negative energy builds up. That is why many young kids cry or argue when they are picked up from school.

This is just my brainstorm of ideas. Some schools are much better than others. Your own child has unique needs. Only by studying out his needs will you be able to know who can meet them best (public school or homeschool, or some other option). We only get one shot at raising our children, and those foundation years have a tremendous effect on the outcome! I pray we will all choose wisely!

Summer School

Mothers ask me why some years, we don’t take a break when it comes to homeschooling. I wonder that myself!  I guess the answer is that homeschooling is just regular life at our house. We have done it so very long, that it is part of the routine. It is easy to keep at it and it gives order to every day. Yes, I do ease up a bit in the summer, mostly in the amount of preparation I do as a teacher. During the school year, I feel more desire to really put in some effort to prepare such things as science experiments, unit study lessons and the like. When summer heat and activities arrive, I am more flexible. Some mornings we garden or go to yard sales or do service instead of homeschool. Gardening is a very important subject in our homeschool; a basic life skill!  We get our basic homeschool subjects done every day too. The children do it as automatically as they brush their teeth and say their prayers. This has been part of our daily life since they were infants, and it just continues year round, rain or shine, summer or winter.

When colonial Americans gathered in their one room schoolhouses, they dismissed just as soon as the ground warmed up for planting. They didn’t reconvene until the harvest was stored up in their barns. That is how summer break originated. Although some public schools are on a year-round school schedule, generally Americans still take a summer break, in spite of the fact that very few of the children are helping in the planting and harvesting these days.

If homeschool is part of your routine daily life, what would be the purpose in taking a summer break? We don’t have to copy the public school schedule. In fact, there are good advantages to taking vacation time when the schools are back in session. We like to take field trips or major vacations in May and September, as the rates are low, the crowds gone and the weather is more pleasant than in the dead of summer.

One thing I have avoided by holding year-round homeschool is the much needed period of relearning that occurs after a few month’s absence of study. Take a good look at any textbook and you will find they are geared for summer loss of skills. Saxon Math books spend the first few months of lessons (presumably from school’s starting in September until December) just reteaching and reviewing what was mastered at the end of the last school year and then forgotten over the summer. I find that we can skip 1/3 of each new level’s math book just by continuing math through the summer. My son Ammon was already halfway through Saxon 2 at 5 years old! He isn’t brilliant, we are just persistent. It isn’t hard to get ahead if you go year around.

Another good reason for keeping at it all year long is that I never have to re-establish the limits and rules for my children. It keeps fighting and complaining over schoolwork to a minimum. If you know that you are going to write in your school journal every single weekday of the year, there is nothing to grumble about. Whenever I take a little vacation from school, whether it be weeks or just a few days, I find that school is rocky for awhile until the routine settles in again. It must be human nature that whatever is a fun break today is the expected norm tomorrow.

I see neighbor children that really look like they haven’t much to do on those long summer days. They try to think up things that sound fun which often turns into nonstop entertainment (swimming, videos, sleepovers, shopping, etc.) During the school year, they are so overly busy with a full day of classes, bus rides, homework, sports, music lessons, and more that they haven’t time to think. Then it comes to an abrupt halt when summer break arrives and they have trouble filling up their days. To me, summer is the best time for music lessons. There are less demands on my children’s time and they can practice more and concentrate on learning their music better. Summer is also an ideal time to do service, which is easily lost in the shuffle of the busier school schedule of fall and winter. We enjoy cooking up extra food and taking meals to pregnant women, new mothers, or sick people in our neighborhood and ward. My children are learning to garden, cook and serve others at the same time—a great lesson! No one can argue that reading a good book is a treat on a lazy summer day. In spite of wanting to keep a year-round early bedtime, we all manage to stay up later in the summer. I like to use the longer evening daylight hours reading aloud to the whole family.

As adults, we know that a vacation is only fun for so long, and then we yearn to be back to work, doing our daily duties and accomplishing something. Sometimes adults even make a vacation into work, jamming in tours, sightseeing, doing the town, etc. in an attempt to “get something done”. I think children must feel the same way. They truly want to be about the business of learning all year long.

In our family in the summer, we do a modified school day, meaning only the basic academics such as reading, journal writing, math and music practice. For children 9 years and under, I have them read aloud to me. Emily, 8, has been reading two sections every day in The Robinson Crusoe Reader (simplified) out loud to me. We have really enjoyed the fascinating story together and look forward to it. Ammon, 5, reads to me from the Beginning Steps to Reading (phonetic reader) and it is a joy to listen to him. He chooses two stories (one page each) to read to me. They are Bible stories in disguise and we like figuring out which story it is and discussing it. Julianna, 13, reads silently in a classic book of her choice, or in the Pathway readers. She just finished Black Beauty and is working on Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates now. Math consists one Saxon lesson. For the younger ones, I play math games with them or assign them to do a math facts drill for a change some days. Journal writing means a few sentences (with a lot of help) and an illustration from the youngest, and private journal writing that I don’t check for my teenagers. While the older children practice music, I practice phonics with my 5-year-old.

My younger children enjoy having a wall chart of their assignments so they can see at a glance what they have to do for school. It makes schoolwork seem more manageable and as they check off each subject, they can see just what is left. I used a piece of butcher paper and wrote each subject next to a blank box. Then I cut up index cards in squares to fit into the blank boxes. On each square, I let my child choose and place a sticker. Then we laminated the chart and the sticker squares. We use tape, velcro or sticky-tack to stick the sticker squares into the box next to the subject as it is completed. I can quickly see who is done with their schoolwork or how much each child has left to do. At the end of school, we move all the sticker squares back to the bottom of the chart.

When public school is about to begin and all the other children in Primary or in the neighborhood are clamoring about who their teacher is and enjoying wearing their new school clothes, I try to make school a little more special by purchasing some new supplies such as markers, spiral notebooks and pencil boxes. New books also make school feel new and exciting. I often choose this time of year to start a new program, such as a 9 week geography course or a unit on studying the classical music composers. Changes breathe life into school and help my children feel there is something interesting going on in our home school and that they aren’t missing out on anything by not attending public school.

It can be easy to be swooped up in the public school schedule, but I truly find taking the summer off only sabotages my home school. Many of my neighbors that have their children in public school during the year make their children do chores, take swimming lessons, etc. in the mornings during the summer, so we don’t feel antisocial. My children are done by noon and able to play with friends and participate in activities during the afternoons. We flex if there is a morning activity that my children especially want to attend. What I have discovered, though, is that my children can practically accomplish two years worth of academics during one year if they don’t stop for summer break. Perhaps it is worth considering for your homeschool.
—DH

Study Schedule

In the back of Love to Learn Homeschool Handbook, you will find a blank study schedule for you to copy and use for each of your children.  Click Study Schedule to download. This study schedule helps immeasurably in writing up assignments to be able to look at this schedule and determine what work needs to be done. I have my children do their Math, Reading and English every single day. I prefer a daily schedule for the 3 R’s because these skills are lost if they are not practiced daily. (Many families start earlier and put their music practice and devotional in the daily block too.) Then, in addition to these daily academics, the rest of the morning is spent on just one subject. I have found that children do much better if they are able to concentrate on one subject, rather than getting a tiny taste of several different subjects daily.

Since their daily work (Math, Reading, English) takes up about 2 hours, this leaves an hour for studying the Subject of the Day. When life is hectic such as after a new baby or in times of illness, we resort to just using textbooks or reference books for assignments. For example, I will assign which pages of their history books to read and perhaps answer questions about. When I have life under better control, I follow an educational plan made up for the year detailing each week or month’s topic of study. If my educational plan says that this week’s geography subject is Africa, then I gather interesting resources to study from. There will be things that each age level can benefit from. Their reading assignment on Africa from their geography book will be assigned, but the fun options may include practicing geography of Africa with a puzzle, or looking at pictures of Africa wildlife in the “National Geographic,” seeing a movie on Africa, or other exciting ways to learn. Usually, I will teach a group lesson at this time on our Subject of the Day, or have an open discussion about our reading. If you are teaching many children, or are teaching a nonreader, you will probably need to prepare for the Subject of the Day the afternoon or evening before.

Since their daily work is pretty well set (such as writing in their journals, doing one math lesson a day), I spend my time rotating between the children to help them with trouble spots and teaching the little ones. When we do science, we spend some of the time doing science experiments. On Fine Arts day, we focus on art and music performance and appreciation. This is the time that we study the great composers and listen to their music, or study the great artists and enjoy their works, and try our hand at their style. Fun art projects are a good Friday activity. When I am really organized, I teach my children music lessons (piano or recorder) on our Fine Arts day.

In planning out each day’s subject, I try to take into account other demands. Mondays can take a more demanding subject than Fridays when everyone is getting weary. I also try to alternate difficult subjects, rather than putting them day after day. Fun topics or favorite subjects can be spaced between harder academic subjects for the Subject of the Day.

I brainstorm with each child at the beginning of the school year about what he’d like to learn. My children’s lists have included: sewing, small engine repair, drawing, typing, composing music, cooking, learning about herbal remedies, first aid, Spanish, computer animation, and more. I help by getting books or materials to further their interest. By leaving space for my children to learn about the things they are interested in, the school week is more exciting. I have been amazed how much my children have taught themselves when given time to delve deeply into a subject of their own choosing. They are motivated!

We are up doing family scripture study at 7:00 A.M., followed by chores and then breakfast. Our goal is to begin school at 9:00 AM and finish up at 12:00 noon to prepare lunch. Then the whole afternoon is free (with the exception of some household jobs) for my children to follow their interests and work on their hobbies and projects. The older children have jobs in the afternoon, lessons or activities or finish up their research and studies. By afternoon, I welcome some time to play with the little ones, garden, run errands, clean house and do what other mothers do in the morning hours when their children are all away at school!

Educational Goals

educational goals