Perspectives from a working (part-time outside the home) homeschooling mom.
Since Liesl is still under the weather, here is a guest post from a friend (Disclaimer: I am in no way as amazing a homeschooler as Liesl.) I have been homeschooling my kids since they were 4 and 2, they are now 9 and 11. I have also always worked part time outside the home and I love my profession. I also love homeschooling my kids, and I think it is great that I can do both. But… the dynamics might be a little different? The key things for me for being able to juggle both are: organization, time management, and some work that they can do without me present.
The Deadline: On the days that I work, I know that I am on a deadline with schoolwork. Once 2 pm hits, if it isn’t done, it’s not going to get done that day. Well…usually. On a more typical day, I have from about 8 or 9 am to 2 pm to get it all done, including breakfast and lunch, and on some days, doctor, dentist, or orthodontist appointments etc. where we cart our work with us where ever we go. Now that my kids are 9 and 11, there are some days when they’ll finish some things on their own after I leave. (This shocks both the part time nanny and their mom.)
Prep Work (or what keeps me up late most nights): On a typical day, I need to do all my prep work the night before. Usually I am up late when I get home from work getting ready for the next day. I have a weekly schedule for which items are scheduled for which days.
I also have labeled drawers set up where I put their work for each subject. I might be copying a worksheet, or creating one. I might be setting up a project, or writing a note listing which things are assigned in a textbook. I make notes each evening in on organizational teacher’s binder about what I plan to have them do in each subject for a given day. It’s both a planning book and a record of progress. But…having it done before I go to bed is essential for my sanity and for things having any chance at all of running smoothly the next day. Also as my kids are getting older, this means that if my kids wake up early they have the option to get some of their work done before anyone else is up. Most often they choose to read or do some of their more “fun” subjects.
Organization (or how I try to contain the chaos): In order to keep things on track I have a white board where our subjects are listed. As my kids finish them, they check them off. This keeps me from losing my mind as I try to bounce back and forth between both kids and subjects, and as I try to figure out what we have left to do. My kids also seem to like checking things off and seeing the visual list get shorter. Some subjects we do together (i.e. science, history, art), and some they do independently (i.e. piano practice, foreign language). Some subjects are mixed (i.e. math, spelling, writing, grammar, Latin). Like Liesl, I have a writing center set up that gets used daily. Some subjects take 10 minutes, and some take longer. I try to make sure that the things they need me to help them with, are finished first. However, on a given day they often choose which order to complete their subjects.
Independent Work (which makes me SO happy): In general I have been, and am working toward, fostering more independence in their work. Some days this works better than others. And it also tends to work better for some subjects than others. For example, foreign language: my daughter does Rosetta Stone Spanish and my son does Pimsleur German I. I like that they can just go do it on their own for a little bit of time every day. Besides, I don’t speak either of these and would be of little help (I took French). They also practice piano and sing their choir songs without me. I just love to listen. For some other subjects, I need a curriculum that I can modify, or weave together with another (or several others) to create what I need. I just don’t have time to create everything from scratch.
Some things I use that help me: To name a few (not at all comprehensive)…Meet the Masters, Meet the Great Composers, History Odyssey, History Detectives, Cover Story, Study guides from Novel Ties, Lively Latin, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Engineering is Elementary, and so many more. Also, I love days when we take field trips or a class somewhere. And sometimes, we just plan a fun day where we don’t do any work at all.
So, in general I think my home school days probably look a lot like everyone else’s. But, I try to make sure we are done by 2 pm. If we are not, the work gets spilled into other days in the week, and once in a while the weekend. On a day that I don’t work, things are much more relaxed. Things work about the same, but there’s no deadline (yea!) and more time for projects and creativity.
Thank you to my amazing (and inspiring friend!) for writing this post! If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy some of the earlier interviews I did about a year and a half ago:
This is a post by my amazing sister, Cynthia. She and her husband homeschool their three kids. My sister works full time and my brother-in-law works part time for the National Guard. They live on a farm in Tennessee and raise chickens and a few ducks. Here’s a view looking out on their lake from a trip last winter:
Liesl has had me on once before to blog a bit about how I came through the early years of my homeschooling journey. We sent our kids out to pre-school, but brought them home for Kindergarten. We’ve now managed nearly a full cycle, and have a high school senior, a freshman, and a seventh grader in the household.
Today’s post is on intensity. Intensity of learning is something I believe in strongly, and it means that the rhythms of the homeschool calendar are for us quite variable. Liesl is amazing; she manages this steady pace of day to day really cool things, and fits quite wonderfully into a schema that approximates attending a school with the coolest teacher imaginable.
I’m not that homeschooler, at least, not any more.
For me, a lot of the work of homeschooling is found in the set-up. We’ve got strong annual goals in all of the traditional subjects, and the world of Life of Fred and Khan Academy and Rosetta Stone and piano practice informs our daily lives on a mostly-regular basis. There ARE skills that need attention every day, and that’s an important part of keeping the academic nerd in me from melting down.
But the place where I think the kids will learn and remember the most is in the intense experiences of deep exploration, and I have had to let go of some of the school day model to make room for the “wow, that’s so cool” stuff.
The youngest is interested in space, and yes, last year we did count space camp (http://www.spacecamp.com/) as part of her “days of attendance” as far as homeschooling is concerned. I’ve also learned that the work with her dad at the craft table (aka dining room table) is part of the measured rhythm of our lives. A project that takes 10 hours and leads to a discussion of types of glue and set times and (oy veh), solvents is probably more important than anything I might have had her do with the Citizenship study that’s also part of our 7th grade curriculum.
Likewise, we’re about to enter the NaNoWriMo zone. National Novel Writing Month (http://nanowrimo.org/ ) is a good time for us to take a hiatus from the regular day-to-day of the school plan, since writing consumes time, mental energy, and planning, organization, and focus. The seventh grader is on her third novel this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what direction she takes it this time. But if we were also still plowing through a set of textbook, I don’t think she’d take it on, or at least she wouldn’t take on the scope and complexity of which she is capable. If you are going to do a big thing, you have to let go of some of the small things.
And so, for the older two, I’ve asked them to think through what their November looks like. It’s NaNo WriMo time, but it’s also time for that long delayed trip to the Everglades. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if they write novels; I suspect that ecology and navigational planning and museums and conversations with the Park Rangers are where our November education will happen.
And it won’t be in books.
And the charts of work accomplished won’t be checked off in all categories.
And I’ll have to let go of the day to day.
Yet at the end of November, the day to day plans for the year of grammatical constructions to be mastered and educational skills to be mapped out and plans for the future: those will still be there, and they might even be good guides for what December needs to look like.
But for now, it’s time to go big, and go deep.
Because I believe in my heart that “intensity” is where learning happens.
In August 2013, a new study was released showing a continued increase in the number and percentage of students who are homeschooled in America. The last time the U.S. government released data about the number of homeschooled students was back in 2007.
How many homeschoolers are there?
In 2007, 2.9% of students were homeschooled. In 2011-2012, 3.4% of students were homeschooled.
In 2007, the number of homeschooled students was about 1.5 million. In 2011-2012 that number had increased to 1.77 million.
Just so you know, this is about the same number of students as are enrolled in charter schools across the U.S. According to the National Center for educational statistics there were 1.78 million students enrolled in charter schools in the 2010-2011 school year.
Where do homeschoolers live?
The rates of homeschooling were highest in rural areas where 4.5% of students were homeschooled. The homeschooling rate was 3.2% in the city, 3.1% in the suburbs and 2.7% in towns.
What grades are the students who homeschool in?
One things that surprised me about the newly released statistics was that the homeschooling rate was actually higher in the upper grades. Just from conversations I’ve had with others, I had assumed that many people choose to homeschool in the younger grades and then put their children into traditional school (public or private schools) in middle school or high school. I had it totally wrong!
The percentage of K-2 students who homeschooled was 3.1%.
The percentage of 3rd-5th grade students who homeschooled was 3.4%.
The percentage of 6th-8th grade students who homeschooled was 3.5%.
The percentage of 9th-12th grade students who homeschooled was 3.7%.
Reasons parents gave for homeschooling:
In the survey parents were given different options to choose from. They could choose more than one reason. The reasons parents gave for homeschooling their children:
A concern about environment of other schools (worded as, “You are concerned about the school environment, such as safety, drugs or negative peer pressure?”) 91%
A desire to provide moral instruction 77%
A dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools 74%
A desire to provide religious instruction 64%
A desire to provide a nontraditional approach to child’s education 44%
Other reasons (some of these included family time, finances, travel and distance) 37%
Child has other special needs 17%
Child has a physical or mental health problem 15%
When asked what the most important reason for homeschooling was:
25% chose a concern about environment of other schools
21% chose other reasons
19% chose a dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools
16% chose a desire to provide religious instruction
Overall, the vast majority of students in the U.S. attend public schools… based on some of the statistics I found, a pie graph of U.S. students might look something like this:
There are many different approaches to homeschooling. “Unschooling” goes by many different names child led learning, natural learning, interest-led learning, self-directed learning or organic learning. This approach allows the child to learn through play, natural learning and self-directed activities. There are no textbooks, no test, no formal education for unschoolers. Unschoolers step away from traditional curriculums and embrace a different approach to learning and education.
Coming up on June 10th to June 14th, there will be an unschooling summit. It is free to attend whether you are an experienced unschooler, a current homeschooler or considering your options for your public school children. There are 10 speakers.
You can spend five days learning about unschooling. Click on the banner above if you are interested in attending.
Do you want to learn a bit more about unschooling right now?
This morning I happened to come across an interview with Susan Wise Bauer. She is a well-known author in the homeschooling community and she has homeschooled for 17 years. She herself was homeschooled with her two siblings. In this video-interview she discussed homeschooling through the teenage years. Two of her children have now graduated and she talked a lot about her perspective on educating her kids through high school and college. Though my kids are still young, it’s really useful to think about what is coming down the road. It was a really terrific piece (thank you, Susan!!). I thought I’d pass this along for those who might be interested:
Luckily for us, my sister homeschools and my nieces and nephew are 16, 14 and 11. I really love seeing how their family is working through the higher grades. I often have long conversations with my sis to hear how things are going (and tuck that information into the back of my mind for when my kids approach that age)! To hear a few of her thoughts yourself, you can read my interviews with my sister from last June here: Part I: Homeschooling through spousal deployment and Part II: Homeschooling through High School.
The one thing that really sticks out in my mind after listening to this interview and after talking with my sister is that homeschooling is a journey. We all have to figure out what is best for our kids each step along the way and the path taken may not be the one we expect.
By the way, you can read all my homeschool interviews (with a Montessori homeschooler, a classical homeschooler, etc.) by selecting the categories button in the right sidebar and selecting interviews with other homeschoolers.
Now I’d better go round-up the kids and start homeschooling ourselves! LD is lost in a book (he’d read all day if I let him!) and the girls have disappeared upstairs playing an involved game of ‘pets!’ But with other activities we need to race off to in a few hours, we’d better start our day!