My name is Betsy, from BJ’s Homeschool. My husband and I have one daughter, whom we adopted. I can’t believe that she is 19 already!
We flew to China to meet her, at 11 months of age, and take her to her forever home. That was the most blessed day of our lives, and we are so blessed by this gift from God. She made us a family. I soon left O.T to become a stay-at-home mom, and begin homeschooling.
Our little one brought such joy and also came to us with some special needs, including adhd and sensory processing disorder. Homeschooling helped so much with each of these concerns. In fact, our daughter is now a sophomore in college, and is doing great there.
2. Have your children always been homeschooled? Why did you decide to homeschool?
We began homeschooling when my daughter was 3, to provide the 1 on 1′s, and the nurturing spirit of learning at home.
We chose to homeschool to provide her with an education that was tailored specifically to meet her needs. We also wanted to pass on our christian faith, on a day to day basis, through everyday life and in her studies. Learning at home allowed us to meet her unique sensory needs, and to meet her where she was at in relation to her adhd. We chose to homeschool all the way, from preschool to high school, and we are so glad that we did.
3. How would you describe your style of homeschooling?
I call myself an eclectic homeschooler. We have used a variety of faith based and secular curriculum. We focused on hands-on approaches, especially in the early years. Since 4th grade, we have incorporated some Oak Meadow curriculum into our days. I loved how art and nature study was integrated into their academics, striving to reach the whole child, head, hands and heart. Whenever we could, we followed our daughter’s special interests, and focused on them for all of her writing projects. Her first report was on rats. Later, she wrote a lot about toucans, penguins, etc.
4. What does a typical day in your homeschool look like?
We usually homeschooled in the mornings, and we made our schedule fit our own rhythms. I set up our daily pattern, by looking at we were most alert, and when we were not, when we needed to be active, and when we needed down time….
Morning Start – Breakfast together, with Circle Time, and singing silly songs with Wee Sing books. I loved doing these!
In a few years, this time became bible study. We began by lighting a candle, then turned to the bible verse for the day, and read the story that went along with it. This led to many great early morning talks on character development.
Morning Studies – We always started with a favorite, which was Explode the Code (ETC), for many years. Then we worked in math, reading, and writing, with short lessons, and lots of active breaks. We focused on the three R’s, with a lot of hands on learning, for the early grades.
Afternoon Activities – We did a lot of handwork, hand sewing, a little knitting, art, crafts, etc. This usually happened in the afternoons, unless we were out doing a dance class or taking art at the parks dept.
Setting a rhythm to our days during the early years, helped my daughter to find hers, and to later be able to create her own schedule, when she was a high schooler.
High School Schedule – As my daughter got older, her study time increased. Otherwise there was homeschool speech and debate, irish dancing, and other fun electives, that led to great friendships, and opportunities for my daughter to explore her interests.
5. What kinds of tools or curriculum do you use to homeschool?
Preschool – All of our choices for Preschool/K, were based on playful learning, and our favorites include:
Explode the Code Primers – These are so great for early phonics.
Bob Books – Early primers that are phonics based, with fun illustrations.
Big Book of Alpha Tales – This has humorous stories for each letter of the alphabet.
Evan Moor’s Science Kids Series – These activity books are full of easy to do little kid’s “experiments”.. for all important, early science fun.
Elementary Years – We used a lot of different curricula, including Saxon, Abeka, Evan-Moor, Oak Meadow, and Explode the Code, which we enjoyed all the way through 5th grade.
And, of course, lots of library books for reading, science, and for fun, free reading, which we did a lot!
Middle and High School Years – We continued with the hands-on approach as much as we could, with Oak Meadow for social studies, including:
Civics – 9th grade
US History – 10th grade
World History – 11th grade
For math and science, we loved
Alpha Omega’s Switched on Schoolhouse including:
Prealgebra – 8th grade
Algebra 1- 9th grade
Geometry – 10th grade
Algebra 2 – 11th grade
6. Do you have a motto, quote, or scripture for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?
Our motto for BJ’s Homeschool has always been this quote from Jesus: “Let the Children Come to Me”
Learning how Jesus loves us, was so important to our homeschool, and my daughter’s upbringing. She had been in an orphanage, waiting for her forever family, for most of her first year of life. Hearing about Jesus’s love brightened her spirit from the first day that we adopted her. Later we taught her that Jesus had been with her, in the orphanage, while she was waiting to come home. And that Jesus is always there. When she later needed to have surgery, she knew she was never alone, even when away from us in the surgery room. She had Jesus there, right beside her.
Secondly, our motto was, through our homeschool days….that Learning is FUN!
My daughter learned to love learning, and still feels that way in college! Homeschooling made her a life long learner. And that is key to success in whatever she does in her life.
7. Is your spouse or other family members involved in your homeschooling?
My husband was the story reader when our daughter was little, and was a big part of her evening routine. Later, he called himself Daddy Taxi, when he helped take her to gymnastics classes. Then, in high school, he was her go-to resource for math and history discussions. We were so blessed to have him involved so much in our homeschool. But at first, he was a little nervous about homeschooling. Once we finished our kindergarten year, her Dad was right there, supporting us every day. Here she is, as a high schooler.
8. What is your favorite part of homeschooling? What is your least favorite part?
Homeschooling has been a gift to my family, and especially to my daughter. We have had our ups and downs, of course, but all along, homeschooling has been the very best choice for us. Learning at home has given my daughter the confidence and skills to become all that she was created to be. Homeschooling also gave our daughter a strong foundation, that she can count on in her young adult years, and later as an adult. It helped to build her faith. Homeschooling also prepared her well for college, and with her love of learning, she has no motivational issues there. The hardest part of homeschooling for us was doing our annual testing. It was a stress at first, until we got used to the testing routine.
9. What is the best piece of advice you were given about homeschooling? What advice would you give to someone who is considering homeschooling?
The best advice I was given was to follow my daughter’s interests. I also was encouraged to use hands-on approaches, and to meet the child was she is at, and go from there. My best advice to a new homeschooler, is to read all you can about homeschooling, and to find and follow a blog, to get an idea of how things can go, day to day. Note – Remembering that blogs do not show the negatives, and to take them with a grain of salt, too. But they can be very encouraging, as are facebook groups. There are many groups that allow folks to ask questions and receive a lot of helpful advice from other homeschoolers.
10. Finish this sentence: Homeschooling is…..
Homeschooling is …….FUN!!
Yes, homeschooling takes a lot of dedication, and work but it also is important to remember the fun! Finding the fun in your homeschooling days is a great way to avoid burnout. And building on the fun in your homeschool, will help you to make memories, that you will cherish for many years to come.
Betsy blogs at BJ’s Homeschool, where she writes about high school, college, and all the fun of homeschooling the , too. Betsy is a published writer of children’s stories and a former OT. As a veteran homeschooler, she also offers Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest