“So, someone told me you Homeschool – is that right?” The lady sitting next to me in church asked.
“Yep,” I said.
“Sooooo, what’s that like?”
“Ah, honey…” I said with a sigh and a smile.
Thinking of homeschooling while you homestead? Here’s what it’s really like…
For a unit study created just for you homeschooling homesteaders, be sure to check out – The Do It Yourself Homestead Homeschool Unit Study. Even if you’re not homeschooling yet, and just want to spend some quality time on the homestead with your kids or grand-kids, this is the unit study for you. It’s VERY flexible and can be adapted to your needs.
Why I Homeschool on the Homestead
Like most homeschoolers I get asked that question a lot and there’s never a twenty-words-or-less answer. It’s like everything and nothing I’ve ever done before! Naturally, I can’t say why anyone else should be homeschooling but I’m always happy to discuss some of the reasons why we do.
It’s About Time
The first reason is probably TIME. I just don’t have time to do anything else.
If I add up all the things we’re supposed to teach our kids:
- the gospel
- life skills
- music and the arts
- just to name a few
I can’t figure out how to do that AND send them away from home for 6-8 hours a day. Then, let them detox from school and friends AND then help them with homework AND then be together as a family. I admire parents who make it work. I just know that I don’t have that capacity.
This time factor has been especially true in recent years as we’ve been building our homestead. Homesteading means 365 days of work and everyone has to pitch in. So, in our case, life is school and school is life!
It’s a Religious Thing
We’re devoutly Christian, so another big reason we homeschool is due to the amount of gospel teaching we feel our children truly need in these the days of trial as ‘men’s hearts fail them.’
This time is unlike any other and so are these kids. There’s so much they simply must know in order to survive, let alone thrive in this time and be ready to literally build a better world. For us, the all things are spiritual before they are temporal. That means that there isn’t any wordly knowledge to be had, in our view, that doesn’t have a spiritual beginning.
That kind of teaching doesn’t take place in government school. And, although we attend three hours of church meetings every Sunday and weekly activities, church just isn’t enough exposure to gospel principles.
Of particular benefit to us in our homestead homeschool efforts is teaching our children how to work. Along with that come lessons about the value of work and why we work (not just for ourselves but also for others). The best way to teach these lessons is to involve them heavily in the work of the homestead.
Homeschool Means Freedom…and Mess
I enjoy the freedom of homeschool, really. I don’t like people telling me what to do.
We have freedom of movement and social interaction with all kinds of different people in all kinds of different places. The idea of putting my children in a room for 6-8 hours a day with people all their own age seems totally foreign.
As we attend homeschool groups and events, my children learn to interact and associate with lots of different ages and types of children. It’s common to watch older children, out of habit, help younger children during an activity. Often without asking, children will make sure the younger ones know what to do and are where they need to be.
I also like the freedom to choose curriculum to suit the ever changing needs of my children and their interests. It’s a lot easier on the teacher and more beneficial for the child if children are able to study things they’re actually interested in.
That’s not to say that you don’t have a core and stick to it. There are subjects that everyone needs to master regardless of how interesting they seem to us. (Math comes to mind, in my case.)
However, if you have a child who isn’t so keen on writing but loves cars, the odds are you’ll be more successful getting him to write something about cars than something for which he has less passion. If math workbooks get boring for one of them quickly, play math games.
The point is, there is a lot of flexibility in homeschool that government school just can’t provide. In public school, there’s one, lone teacher trying to teach 35 kids the same thing for the same amount of time with differing levels of understanding and interest. I know I couldn’t do that for that many kids so I really admire the GOOD teachers in public school.
Core and Non-Core Learning
I also don’t hesitate to use online learning, both for core and non-core learning. The Internet is not an enemy to homeschooling parents – quite the opposite!
For core studies with our religious doctrine included into everyday learning, we use The Family School Online. This may not appeal to all, but there are LOTS of Christian (or completely agnostic) online curriculum. Nose around the Internet and ask your homeschooling friends, especially those in your congregation, which they use and enjoy.
For non-core online resources, Craftsy is one of our absolute favorites! There’s such a variety and the price is so reasonable for the wealth of content in each course. PLUS, the courses go on half-off sales all the time. Sign up for the Crafty newsletter to know when those sales are on – we wait for them and then load up. We’ve done painting classes, a drop spindling class and so many others. Check a few out below:
How Do I Know if Homeschooling is For Me?
If you’re a praying person (or one who takes time to ponder and feel out what is right for you), the bottom line is really to pray about it sincerely.
The only time I ever really pipe up about homeschool is when a parent says, “Oh, I could never do that, I’m not [insert a word like smart or organized] enough”. That’s nonsense.
If someone prays and the Lord says that homeschooling is right for your family, then He will prepare a way. Phillipians 4:13, for Pete’s sake!
You have to allow yourself a learning curve and an adjustment period. So, too, things are always changing and life happens. Nothing ever goes perfectly, sure. But if He says you can, you can. Period.
Our homeschool has evolved as our lives have evolved and that’s actually one of the coolest parts about it. Education is just part of what we do every day. There’s less hassle and more flow.
The biggest personal benefit to me is that my kids are my best friends.
Sure, we drive each other nuts sometimes. And yes, some days I would really like to get a more conventional job so that I could have sick leave and lunch breaks and go to the bathroom by myself.
Ultimately, though, my children know me better than anyone and I know them. We love and serve each other all day long until, by now, its habit.
- forgive me when I’m a jerk and I say I’m sorry
- stick by me on the days when nothing goes right
- eat pancakes for dinner with me on those days we decide we just need to start over
I don’t have time for grown up friends, but I have five little, true friends that I hang out with every day.
Just Keepin’ it Real
I hope that wasn’t too pedantic or preachy. Believe me, there are plenty of times I throw my hands up in the air and want to quit.
I just know that, for us, this was the right thing to do. That knowledge gives me the power I need to keep going in spite of my weaknesses and despite all the stuff I mess up.
So, What Does My Day Look Like?
As far as what a typical day of school looks like for us – ha! I have no idea what a “typical” day might look like. In eight years of homeschooling, I have yet to have one!
This year has been typically tumultuous with a surprise fifth baby, a job loss, and a lot of new homestead projects under construction. We also have the possibility of moving looming up within a year or so. However, in every experience there is a lesson and we’ve had a great school year so far. Here’s a sample of our usual week for this year – until the baby comes and planting season starts and the goats kid and…well, you get the idea.
- Hymn, Devotional, Family Prayer
- Reciting our Family Mission Statement
- Reciting our Family Motto – Say, Go, Be, Do!
- Vocabulary/Spelling practice – Kid of the Day** gets to choose which we use – Winston Grammar, Happy Phonics (from Lovetolearn.net), Vocabulary Cartoons, English From the Roots
- Math practice – Kid of the Day gets to choose a Peggy Kaye game, reciting multiplication tables or using flash cards for fractions and multiplication.
For the older three (ages 10, 8, 6), practice violin, do math and phonics/language arts workbooks, reading practice (scriptures and whatever else they want)
*For more information on Kid of the Day, please read the Family Times on the Homestead chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. If you don’t have your own copy, you can order one here. If you’d like to see a sample of that chapter, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday and Wednesday- History and Geography
Tuesday and Thursday – Astronomy with Jeannie Fulbright
Friday – Herbs, herbs, herbs! Here are some resources we use for that:
Tuesdays and Thursdays also find us involved in Activity Girls at church, Cub Scouts and book groups. Each day will involve chores of some kind, especially for my older two as they’re learning a lot of adult skills like cooking and laundry this year.
Depending on the season, the homestead will demand that children check for eggs, help tote water and feed, pull weeds, harvest food, process harvested food, turn compost, administer to sick or injured animals, dig holes, help work the beehives, stack firewood, plant any number of things, tend their own children’s garden and a long list of other activities.
For a much longer list of homestead chores for kids (including teenagers and those young at heart like grandparents), please see the Family Times on the Homestead chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Again, if you’d like a sample of that chapter, just email me.
I’m writing this in January, so this month we’re:
- starting cool season crops, perennial flowers and herbs indoors on our seed starting shelves
- clearing snow from animals pens
- monitoring the animals health (this year has been crazy, crazy cold)
- drawing out plans for the coming year
The kids also need to:
- decide what they want to plant in their garden boxes
- help us decide how many chickens we want to have this year
- help us decide whether or not we raise turkeys again this year and how many goats we think we need
We’re also waiting excitedly for our several hundred bulbs that we planted this fall to pop up in spring and promise us that this winter will, indeed, end.
In the End
See, not really something you can sum up in twenty words or less. I don’t even remember what I said to that nice lady at church. BUT, if I had to try, I’d say:
“Never a dull moment, so glad I’m on this ride, wouldn’t trade it for the world and, man, am I exhausted!”
*Cover photo gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.