Welcome to another Interview with a Homeschool Mom!
I would like to introduce Karen Waide, author of the Tots and Me blog.
How many children are you currently homeschooling? How long have you been homeschooling?
We are currently homeschooling our 4 youngest children. My husband and I both have children from previous marriages, but they are all old enough to be out on their own, married, and even with children of their own. Our little ones are 9, 8, 6, and 4. I would say we have been homeschooling since our 9 year old was about 2 1/2 years old, so 7 years. Back then I called it “home preschooling.”
Have your children always been homeschooled? Why did you decide to homeschool?
Yes, these young ones have always been homeschooled. I had wanted to homeschool my older children, but their father wouldn’t let me. It was impressed upon my heart probably 20 years ago now, that the public, secular schools are no place for children from a Christian family to be taught. As my older children went through school, my feelings about public schools were confirmed. (And this is coming from someone who used to LOVE school.) When I got remarried, I explained to my husband that I wanted to homeschool, and he slowly got on board. We both have seen the problems of bullying in the public schools, and of the leading of the children towards humanism. I also did not want my children to be taught evolution as fact. Also, knowing how much my older children struggled through school, yet were pushed along, I knew I didn’t want that for our little ones. I wanted to make sure they knew how to read and comprehend.
How would you describe your style of homeschooling?
I like to say we are Eclectic Review Homeschoolers. We do have a core curriculum, which I will talk about below, but because of being on the Homeschool Review Crew, we have a variety of material to use through the year. We read a lot of living books and try to fit in hands-on work and crafts, though we used to do a lot more. I like the idea of a Charlotte Mason teaching style, but couldn’t get on board with all her teachings. Same with Maria Montessori’s teachings, which is where a lot of my preschool ideas came from as I worked in a Montessori Children’s house with toddlers and preschoolers.
What does a typical day in your homeschool look like?
My day starts bright and early with laundry, personal Bible time, and exercise. After the children wake up they get dressed, and usually get themselves breakfast. Though there are days I will prepare oatmeal or eggs, they usually have cereal. Lately, I end up eating after they are done, so I get them set up with what we call their “Morning Routine” while I eat. During this time, the older girls alternate days for using the new computer and doing breakfast dishes, while the younger two alternate between exercise and the old computer. They then have free time until I am ready for our “Gathering Time.” During this free time, I will occasionally work with one or two of the children on spelling or another subject that needs to get finished.
Our “Gathering Time” has changed over the years. This is our current routine. We gather at the coffee table, sing our morning song, then take turns praying before saying the Pledge to the Bible, and singing “The B-I-B-L-E.”
We actually stand up and march around for the second stanza of the song. We then dance around while singing “This Is The Day the Lord Has Made.” It is then time for the Pledge of Allegiance and Calendar/Weather time, so we head to the dining room.Then we head back to the coffee table for devotion/memory work time. We close with the leader of the day’s choice of song and with my closing prayer. Then I read several books that go with our topic of the week. Sometimes we still have time for some table time, other times, our table time waits until after lunch or dinner.
While the children watch their educational show(s) of the day (chosen by that day’s leader) I make lunch. They will eat while watching their show, and then, if I am still eating, they will have reading time or more free time. When I am done, I set them up for “Afternoon Routine” which is similar to the “Morning Routine.” The older girls will do the dishes or use the computer, while the younger child who didn’t have old computer time that morning will do so, while the other child has “mommy time.” After the dish washer is done, she will have her exercise time. Then we move into table time, where the children do their worksheets/workbooks or we do a project. If we still don’t get to it, we will do it after dinner.
On Mondays the children have ballet at the YMCA, after which my hubby and I have our classes. Sometimes I will send worksheets with the children for them to work on.
As you can see, we aren’t very structured. But I am using a planner this year, and we are keeping up with our work better than we have in the past.
What kinds of tools or curriculum do you use to homeschool?
Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, our curriculum is quite varied. Our core curriculum comes from My Father’s World, which has a Charlotte Mason influence. I found My Father’s World when Tabitha was getting ready to start Kindergarten, and have been using it as our core ever since. There is a huge book list provided by My Father’s World, in each of their grade’s teacher manuals, so we read LOTS of books. Because of this, my library card is a very important “tool” in our homeschool. The computer is also very important as the children do a few subjects online: math with CTCMath, foreign language with Middlebury Interactive Languages, and science with Science Shepherd. They also use various educational sites such as Starfall, Teach Your Monster to Read, ABCYa, and Essential Skills Advantage.
Do you have a motto, quote, or scripture for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?
There is a verse that I have on my blog that I feel is the scripture for our homeschool. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is the main reason we are homeschooling, to make sure the children are taught from a Christian worldview as opposed to a secular one. We don’t want the children to grow up questioning the truth of the Bible. I want to be able to train them up in the ways of the Lord.
Is your spouse or other family members involved in your homeschooling?
My husband is involved as much as he can be. First of all, he is my biggest source of encouragement and support. When I am doubting myself, he is right there to remind me why I am going to continue to homeschool. As he works nights, he is usually sleeping during our school time. But, on his days off, there are times he will help out. He will look at their work and occasionally help them with work. The children love when he joins in, as he will make things silly (sometimes to mommy’s dismay).
What is your favorite part of homeschooling? What is your least favorite part?
There are two things that I absolutely LOVE about homeschooling. It is so important to me that I get to be the one who gets to see the breakthroughs that the children make. Such as when reading FINALLY clicks. I also love being able to learn along with the children. There are things I have forgotten or don’t even remember learning, and it has been a blast to refresh my mind. My least favorite part would have to be not really having time to myself. There are times I just want to sit and read or write, and I can’t find the time, or if I do, I feel like I am ignoring the children and then I feel guilty.
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 piece of advice I have received would have to be, don’t rush the kids. It doesn’t matter if children read at 2 1/2 or 8, they will learn to read when they are ready. Yes, our oldest homeschooled child was reading by 2 1/2. But you know what, her sister was reading at 3 1/2 and can still read. And the younger children didn’t start til around 4. I can’t imagine how stressed I would be if I had been trying to teach our youngest to read, while teaching the older girls their lessons.
The advice I would share is, enjoy every moment with yo ur children. They grow way too fast. Not only do I have older children out of the house, but I can’t believe our oldest homeschooled child is already 9 and starting 4th grade.
Finish this sentence: Homeschooling is. . . such a blessing.