Every home educating family I know follows a different system. One family has a home-classroom, five children aged 12 to 3, and they all school at the same time in the same room with mom as the primary teacher. Another family has two children and they are a bit more relaxed. Yet another family has a varying number of children, depending upon how many are currently being fostered, and they pretty much unschool. So, sometimes people want to know what it looks like for us, because, after all, my husband and I both work full-time. I am also in graduate school part-time, and we have four children, ages 12, 10, 8 and 2. I do not know any other family personally that home schools while both parents work full time, but we have been doing it for about three and a half years. My children have thrived, both academically and emotionally, so I cannot imagine schooling any other way than we are now. There are days that are more challenging than others, but what endeavor worth doing has ever been easy? Childbirth= difficult; marriage=takes work to make it work; rewards= endless 🙂
Here’s what it looks like for us:
Oldest child, age 12–> goes to work with mom every day; this past year, he took one class at the zoned middle school, and it went well, but we will not be doing that again in the future. One reason he comes to work with mom is that he loves to plow through subjects that he finds interesting, and he learns very quickly. Being in a classroom and needing to wait for the teacher and his peers was frustrating throughout most of the year. All of his other classes are online through Florida Virtual School. We love the help available from teachers who really know their subject areas very well. They are always available to help him. He typically is working on four classes at a time, and he does one subject per day for four days per week, since mom works four days each week. So, for example, he might have Tuesday- English, Wednesday- Biology, Thursday- Personal Finance, and Friday- World History. We set a pace plan at the beginning of the course and then the teachers help keep him accountable. They have been flexible when we have needed it, and they have also pushed him to reach his potential as well. Since mom is a college professor, he is able to use the campus library as his quiet place to work.
Second child, age 10 and third child, age 8–> Both girls go to a friend’s house for child care. Our friend makes sure they follow a schedule of work and play throughout the day, and mom sends the materials needed for schooling. The 8 year-old has benefited very much from the use of Reading Kingdom, an online reading mastery program. The 10 year-old completed all of her required grade level work (through the PACES curriculum) during the first semester of the year, so for the second semester, she asked to design her own study plan, which included lots of reading and creative writing. She also wanted to learn guitar, so she took a guitar class privately and also took the Florida Virtual School guitar class online. She excelled at both, and this was a good move to help her learn to transition. We are planning that she will begin taking more online classes now that she has also completed one well enough to know how to navigate the online environment. For math, she has been using Teaching Textbooks, which provides instant feedback and lessons at a pace that works well for her. The 8 year-old struggles with literacy, so her primary goal has been to improve her reading. She loves art, and so we have used the Draw Write Now program to boost her writing abilities and engage her in the art that she loves. She will begin using Teaching Textbooks for math in the upcoming year. Both girls are in elementary school, and we do not add subject areas for elementary. I believe very strongly that reading, writing, and math are the necessities for elementary school, so we do not add subject areas until middle school.
The baby, our two year old, has learned how to share, and he has been learning to play with other children, as he goes to the same family with his sisters for “school” each day. He plays with the other children, and he learns by the example of the older children, and we are very pleased that he is already taking a strong interest in reading, singing, and sharing. The cost for childcare for the three children has been quite high. The only expense we have that’s more is our mortgage payment each month. Certainly, to be willing to spend what we have been, both my husband and I must be committed to homeschooling. This would never work if we were not on the same page.
Some people have asked whether the cost is really “worth it,”– meaning, wouldn’t it be easier if mom didn’t work outside the home?– Well, we have tried that in the past. Unfortunately, because of the added cost of health insurance, and the need for the extra income, NO- it wouldn’t make more sense for mom to stay home in our case.
I guess, if I were to try to demonstrate a significant lesson to other families by the way we homeschool it would be this: If we can do it, so can you. I am a teacher by trade, but I don’t do any of the academic teaching for my own children. They know that school is important, but they also know that they can and should be learning on their own. I encourage them to research and dive into whatever it is that they love at the moment (Web Design for the oldest, Guitar for the second, Drawing and Painting for the third, and Elmo for the baby)– then they just go and do the thing they love. Ultimately, the children are thriving. They love to learn, and they love life. They don’t wake up each morning dreading going to school or crying over endless piles of homework at the end of the day. I would never tell anyone that homeschooling is the best option for every family. In fact, it definitely is NOT the best option for MOST families. But to anyone who desires to homeschool who may be thinking it is all kinds of impossible, take heart, and know that just because it would be difficult does NOT mean it is impossible.