Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many families are considering homeschooling. There is a huge difference between learning at home, and true, legal homeschooling.
Homeschooling, by definition, is when a parent/guardian is the teacher, where schooling at home (or e-learning/e-school) is with a non-parent as the primary teacher and school is usually done virtually. With homeschooling, parents choose everything from the curriculum to the schedule. Schooling at home typically has less freedom, less flexibility, and takes more time.
If you’re serious about getting started with homeschooling, have already committed and don’t know where to start, or still have lots of questions before you make your decision, I’m here to help!
1. What curriculum do you use?
My Father’s World. It’s a bible-based curriculum that includes all subjects for preschool through high school. There are so many things I love about MFW! It’s Charlotte Mason inspired, so it’s very gentle and age-appropriate. It requires little to no preparation; I can just open my teacher’s manual and go! They make it really simple to teach kids of multiple ages at the same time. What I love most is that it weaves the weekly bible and history lessons throughout most subjects. I always suggest buying the Deluxe package, which saves so much time and money as opposed to having to piece everything together yourself.
2. How long does it take very day?
Every family and child is different, but a good rule of thumb is that the grade your child is in takes that number of hours to complete. For example, Kindergarten takes less than one hour per day. First grade = 1 hour. Second grade = 2 hours, etc. For us, kindergarten takes 30-45 minutes a day. First grade took about 90 minutes a day, and currently, Kindergarten and 2nd grade at the same time takes 2-2½ hours per day.
3. What does your homeschool schedule look like?
Daily Schedule: On a “typical” day (I say “typical” because, really, no two days look alike), my kids wake up at 7:30am, have breakfast, get dressed, and brush their teeth. School starts at 8:30am and my goal is to finish before lunch time. Before the kids have lunch, their beds need to be made and bedroom floors cleaned up. Our afternoons are for free time, appointments, activities, and my office hours. As a newborn photographer, my mornings have to stay somewhat flexible because I obviously never know when my clients’ babies are going to be born. I always photograph my sessions on weekday mornings (not every weekday morning; on average, once per week), so we do school in the afternoon on those days. If there’s too much on my plate or the kids are not focused enough for school, we just won’t do school that afternoon and we pick up where we left off the next day. No biggie.
Weekly Schedule: We do school four days a week. I prefer to save Fridays for field trips, play dates, zoo trips, running errands, playing catch-up, etc. Every now and then we’ll do school on a Friday, but it really doesn’t happen too often.
Yearly Schedule: We prefer to do school on a somewhat year-round schedule. I like to start our school year in the summer, when it’s blazing hot in Phoenix and we spend most of our time inside anyway. I schedule a week off after about five weeks of school, but our breaks are very flexible and can be switched around if needed. I like to take more time off in the Fall, Winter, and around the holidays when the weather is really nice and our schedule is busier with other commitments. Once our school year is done (which is about 34 weeks long), we take another long break. Our 2019-2020 school year started in mid-July 2019 and ended in late May 2020, so our “summer break” was all of June and the first 1-2 weeks of July.
4. What about socializing?
Contrary to popular belief, homeschooled kids actually have more time to socialize because they’re not sitting at a desk seven hours a day! Our kids have the opportunity to play with other kids at the park, at the gym, and at church, along with our local homeschool P.E. class, organized sports, dance class, swim lessons, music lessons, and more!
5. Do you belong to a co-op?
We don’t, but not because I don’t love the idea! A co-op is just what it sounds like. A group of homeschool families who get together, typically once a week, in which the parents take turns teaching the children a different subject: music, art, science, or something else. The reason I’ve never participated in a co-op is simply that my schedule needs to remain flexible in order to serve my photography clients. Last school year we had P.E. class on Tuesday mornings and dance class on Wednesday mornings, so adding a third weekly morning commitment wasn’t in the cards. I know plenty of homeschool families who love their co-ops!
6. Do I need to have a school room?
Not at all! We have a large enough home where we are able to have a room dedicated to homeschooling, but most families I know do school at their dining room tables and love it! You can use a storage cart like this and just wheel it over to the table when it’s time for school!
7. I don’t think I’m qualified to teach my kids.
False. There is no one more qualified to teach kids than their own parents! You know them better than anyone else. You know what they love, what they don’t love, their triggers, their needs, their learning styles, and with homeschooling, you have endless opportunities to cultivate a true love for learning!
8. How do I find out my state’s requirements for homeschooling?
Visit HSLDA to learn more about homeschooling in your state.
If you have any other questions, please post them below. Someone else may have the same question and I’d love for them to read my reply! No matter which method of schooling you choose for your kids, know that I’m praying for you and your journey. You’ve got this!