For today and the four days that follow, we are participating in a blog hop with the Schoolhouse Review Crew — Real Life Homeschool.
I’ll be giving you a peak all week into what homeschooling looks like for us — a Christian, delight-directed, mostly unit study homeschool with an only child in middle school, who happens to have ADHD, a work-at-home-mom with chronic pain, and a dad who travels a lot (and takes us with him much of the time).
Let’s just suffice it to say we’re probably not what you think of as the “typical” homeschool family, if that even exists.
We really do border on being unschoolers at this point, but this 8th grade year has had a bit more structure as we head into high school next year. Just a bit more. Old habits die hard.
To kick things off, I thought I would share a real honest look at what a fairly usual day might look like for us. Let’s start with how I balance homeschooling with working from home. Generally speaking, this has been our schedule for much of the year:
8 am-10 am — office hours
10 am-3 pm — homeschool hours
3 pm-5 pm — office hours
Speaking honestly, homeschooling doesn’t start before 10am, because Ben is rarely awake before 10am. He’s never been a great sleeper, so allowing him to sleep in gives him a chance to get enough rest. Growing young men, going through puberty, need sleep! And if the best sleep he gets is between 1-10am, then so be it. This is the beauty of homeschooling — the flexibility to do what works for your kids.
So, 10am is the goal, but realistically, by the time he is up, dressed, had breakfast, and does a couple of morning chores, it’s closer to 11am or even noon before school begins. When he’s finished with all of these things, we have some Bible time — we are currently memorizing the book of Philippians, so one of us reads all 4 chapters and we usually discuss whatever verses capture our attention that day. Once we’ve completed that (about 30-40 minutes) and had some prayer time, we’re ready to begin the school day.
The beginning part usually starts with math. He hates math. Hates it. Oftentimes one of the last things he says to be before going to bed is, “well mom, another day without using algebra!” So we get it out of the way first (and try to make it fun when we can). Usually he does it on the bed. I guess math is better lying down on the bed.
I’m currently putting Ben through a math remediation course. Years of skipping from math program to math program, trying to find something he loves, has created many gaps. Bridgeway Math has a 2-book program that will ensure he is ready for Algebra when he begins high school. It begins at the beginning with whole numbers and goes through Pre-Algebra. When he completes this program, he will use the only math program he never complains about, for high school — Life of Fred. As a bonus, the upper levels of Life of Fred integrate subjects such as Biology, Economics, and Physics.
Once math is finished, pretty much anything goes. Writing happens more with writing prompts and working through the Jump In curriculum from Writing with Sharon Watson. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing how I sometimes use writing prompts according to what Ben is learning in other subjects or is just currently passionate about. Kids just enjoy writing more if they can write about those things that interest them. At least this is true for Ben.
Other subjects — science, history, technology, etc. are learned according to his interests. Because Ben lives every day with the effects of ADHD (lack of focus, easily distracted), giving him the choice to learn about subjects in which he has great interest has worked well for him. The more interested he is, the better he is able to focus. He’s been pretty obsessed with World War II for over a year now. Dad’s travel schedule allowed us to visit the National World War II Museum in New Orleans last year, and soon we will visit the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC on another trip with Dad. I’ll be sharing more about the benefits of traveling for homeschooling in a “Travel Is ___________” series on Word Traveling next month.
Our house is filled with books — fiction and nonfiction, real living books from which he can explore and discover, as well as DVDs, audio books, audio dramas, art supplies, Lego education, robotics kits and other electronic kits, and more. Ben also utilizes websites such as Netflix, Khan Academy and SchoolhouseTeachers.com, and occasionally takes an online course, such as Mother Should I Trust the Government. His iPad is chock-full of educational apps. Making the foundation of our homeschool books and internet accessible courses makes it super simple to take school on the road. With an iPad and laptop, we have books, apps, internet, pod casts, You Tube — everything we need easily tucked into a backpack. Have backpack, will travel. A few paperback books, a robotics kit and some art supplies will even fit in there as well.
We’ve limited outside activities (ie: co-ops and team sports), mostly because of our heavy travel schedule, but recently Ben has become very interested in physical fitness, working out with weights, running, and the such. Thankfully, I was able to find a gym that teaches teens how to use weights in a very encouraging (no drill sergeants here) environment, and he is really enjoying the homeschool teens class. On the plus side, most places we travel to have exercise facilities, so this is also something he can continue when we are traveling.
I mentioned earlier that I work from home. I’ve already written an article about how to homeschool successfully while working from home, so I’m not going to address that much this week. Feel free to click over and read that article if the subject interests you. My work is 100% online, so just like our homeschool, my home office easily travels with us (sometimes just to the Starbucks nearby to give Dad some quiet time to work at home).
As you can probably tell, homeschooling is just a way of life for us. Our lives don’t revolve around homeschooling. Homeschooling revolves around our lives. It’s been a beautiful integration for 10 years now. We are very excited for what the next 4 years will hold. High school . . . here we come!
Please stop by the rest of the week. I’ll be sharing a little bit deeper how this all works for us!
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read Travel is Our Favorite Way to Homeschool.