Meet the Merry Moss Family

Please introduce yourself and your family to us, and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

My name is Sarah Moss and I’m a single mom of two boys, ages 11 and 13. We live in Alberta, Canada. 

How long have you been home schooling?

I started homeschooling my eldest in kindergarten, and he’s in grade 7 now. My youngest attended two-thirds of a year at the local Adventist academy before I pulled him out to homeschool him as well.

Why did you decide to home school?

My sons have special needs, particularly my eldest. I intuitively did not feel he was ready or able to be sent to school at that young age. When he was born, I felt God speak to my heart that my son was given to me and it was my responsibility to raise him, not to send him to daycare or school. 

What style of home schooling does your family follow?

Our style of home schooling is passion driven, and we do a lot of unschooling as it suits the boys special needs.  

Do you have a philosophy about home schooling?

I think the closest I come to having a philosophy is that if I can tap into the children’s passions, they will independently learn everything they need to succeed in life.

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to home school, and why?

I use Saxon and Khan Academy for math, and Explode the Code for my youngest and Daily Grams for my oldest for language arts. Outside of that, we use very little specific curriculum; instead I make up our own lesson plan for the boys. It’s quite an eclectic style with pieces from many different places. We use a lot of video documentaries for science and social studies and field trips to round out the information. I’ve found that the more I can help them see the real life application, the more easily they learn the work.

Are you the primary “teacher,” or do your spouse or other family members participate with home schooling?

I am the primary teacher, with the exceptions being when I register them in specific classes, field trips, or co-ops.

What does a typical home schooling day look like in your home?

They work on their math and language arts beginning at 9 a.m., which can take about one and a half to two hours. Lately they have asked that they take turns doing their work to reduce the distraction of the sibling and we are trying that. So far, it seems to be helping each boy move more quickly through their work. In the afternoon we work on other subjects or go on field trips, and in the evening they each do independent reading out loud before bed.

What do you love the most about home schooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I think the familial relationships is the thing I love most. The boys have a friendship rarely seen between tween/teen siblings, and they also both have a close relationship with me. I love knowing who my children are and who is in their field of influence, and knowing that if they have a question about anything in life they will come and talk to me about it first. I love that we can specifically address areas they struggle in so they can learn despite any learning disorders. 

The thing I dislike most is the battle. Many days I wish I could take off the teacher hat and just be mom. It’s worth it, though. 

Is there anything you would like to share about your home school?

I tend to homeschool differently than most other people I know, but it works for my children and that’s all that matters. I think many times there are a lot of societal pressure, expectations, and misinformation around homeschooling. It’s pretty rare to be out with the boys during the day and have a positive response when we say they are homeschooled. People assume it takes enormous amounts of patience, or that you need a certain level of education to be an effective homeschooler. The reality is that parenting does take a LOT of patience; and, there are so many available resources to fit every person’s style of teaching and learning, which makes needing a certain level of education unnecessary. Having said that, not everyone should homeschool either. We need to choose the path that suits our families best and stick with it. What we are used to becomes normal.  

Meet the Friendly Fergusen Family

Please introduce yourself and your family to us, and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

Hi, my name is Julia Ferguson, a stay-at-home, relatively strict, homeschooling Mom. These aren’t my only titles of course, since I am very involved in our local Adventist church with drama presentations, the worship service, and teaching Sabbath School. I am completely blessed in that I have the opportunity to stay home with the kids. For the last few years, I was working outside the home while the boys did their schoolwork. However, their work wasn’t getting done, I was over-committed at church, and I was trying to work 32 hours a week. The extra money and time away from home wasn’t bringing us any closer, so after discussing it with my husband, we decided to have me leave that job and cut back on my responsibilities at church. I am happily married to the wonderfully supportive Tim Ferguson. We have been together 27 years this May, and together we have four amazingly individual children. 

We live in a small city in Washington State and we love it here.  We are on the west side of the mountains so get a bit more rain and in return a very green and beautiful place to live. Washington has some of the easiest homeschooling laws on the books and so makes it extremely easy to homeschool.

Here’s the rest of the family:

Our oldest is Alex — not pictured — and he is 22 and married his school sweetheart, Geovana, on August, 5, 2017. They met in third grade, while I still had Alex in our local Adventist elementary school. He no longer lives at home and graduated our homeschool in 2013. Even though he isn’t living here anymore, we are still very close, and he texts often (and only calls occasionally – sigh). We have some of the most amazing conversations. I am very proud of the man he has become, and adore the woman he married, and truly can’t wait to see where God leads them next. 

Angela is a beautiful and most-of-the-time happy young woman with a some extra challenges of her own. She has Cornelia de Lange syndrome (http://www.cdls-usa.org, if you want to learn more about people with this syndrome). What this means for her is a profound developmental delay, along with quite a few ongoing medical issues. Angela is 21; however, developmentally she is only maybe three, with her most common “age” being about 2 1/2. She is severely anaemic: we have recently dealt with a round of invasive and non-invasive tests to find out why, and the closest theory is she has alpha thalassemia, a permanent disease which will always affect her ability to absorb iron correctly. She has small, fragile red blood cells. On top of that she has severe acid reflux, a mild heart murmur, dental issues, and other behavioural problems for which we have her medicated. I have pulled her out of school early. She was due to graduate in June, but due to the newest health issues it seemed best to keep her out. So, now she is home full-time with the rest of us. This has been our biggest transition so far.

Angela

Aaron is a brilliant and very serious 17-year-old who is far too smart for his mama. His mind seems to work too fast to keep up with, and his ability to understand computer and other technology is amazing. He also has an amazing servant’s heart. He regularly volunteers at church on the sound or tech crew, doing everything from praise team set-up to helping run (tech) bigger full-church plays we put on every year. He is a strictly behind-the-scenes kind of kid. He participates in our youth group, and he is always open to helping anyone who asks. He is a well-liked and respected member of our church.

Aaron

Adam is a funny, sarcastic, and incredibly intelligent 15-year-old young man. He is a social butterfly and loves anything to do with spending time with other people. He is in Boy Scouts and has been the last couple of years. He loves it, and I am incredibly impressed with the gentlemen who run the troop he is in.  Adam also has an incredible servant’s heart and is often found at church helping out. His current “job” is helping with the lights for church. He also plays the violin (I am working on getting him lessons), and has been in the praise band a few times. He likes to dye his hair new colors and express himself openly and honestly, which I support completely. He is also in the youth group and is a well-liked and respected member of our church — blue hair and all.

Adam

How long have you been home schooling?

12 years

Why did you decide to home school?

I found out Alex (fifth grade at the time) had been bullied every day that year in our local church school. He had told the teacher; however, it seemed little had been done about it, and his grades went from A/B to D/F.  He also lost his love for learning. At that time I also found my two youngest, who were in K and pre-K, also were not thriving as I felt they should be. Before I could even consider sending the boys back, I had to pay the school what we owed from the previous year. I prayed about it, asking the Lord to either help me find the money, which he had done every year previously, or help me start homeschooling. I didn’t get the money, and he led me to other families who homeschooled instead, and most of all put the Moore’s books in my lap! And, once we started I never once thought it was a bad decision (teenage angst aside)! Alex actually went to the school’s homeschool program (band and PE and testing) until he graduated eighth grade — which they let him do with their class! The younger two I practiced delayed schooling until they were eight and ten. It completely worked for us. 

What style of home schooling does your family follow?

I guess we are more traditional in that I don’t follow the unschooling practices, but we are pretty eclectic, and I don’t follow a particular style of anything. 

Do you have a philosophy about home schooling?

Yes, whatever works best for that child and that family is what is best to do. The only thing I personally believe has to be in our homeschool is God; because of that, we can work with and get through anything that comes our way. God is our center and the only reason we are successful at anything. 

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to home school, and why?

I use books, textbooks, computer-based learning, and online and co-op learning here. I love Apologia science, but have one who prefers books and another who prefers the computer, so I buy the cd-rom full course and textbooks. I have Teaching Textbooks maths — both learn much better with these — and one uses the book and the other doesn’t. I just found Notgrass History and I am in love. It is Christian based and written by homeschoolers, and the best part is we get literature (with real books) and Bible in the same course. I do extra Bible, but love the time the books take to have them read relevant texts as well force them to think about what they’ve read and how to apply it. Both boys have their own laptops and even email me assignments (saves paper and ink). There have been others over the years, but these are my favorites. My biggest tool is the  http://www.homeschooltracker.com website. It’s not free, but really not expensive and totally a time saver for me. I enter the lesson plans, chores, etc., but in the long run it saves me time, especially now that I have two high-school-aged teens and I’m horrible about tracking — a lesson I learned with Alex, haha. It keeps me accountable and does transcripts! 

Are you the primary “teacher,” or does your spouse or other family members participate with home schooling?

 I do all of the teaching except where I can find a good video/computer teacher that is better. Tim will sometimes help with science and math related items.  

What does a typical home schooling day look like in your home?

My daughter and I are up by 8:30 a.m. and having our breakfast, and I wake the boys around 9 (if they aren’t up…we’re working on alarm clock skills, hehe). Private devotional time, showers, food, etc., is first for them. We found a family worship time doesn’t work as well for us now that they are older. School is from about 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m., with an hour break for lunch and resting their eyes. Then comes chores, and whoever is on for dinner (Aaron does Friday nights and Adam does Tuesdays) makes dinner. After that we watch some TV, play video games together or read or I knit/crochet. 

What do you love the most about home schooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I love the freedom. We can get up, go on field trips, take a vacation, go to the zoo, etc., whenever we want. I also love getting to spend that much time with the boys on a regular basis. Angela is a joy, but she takes a lot of time and energy so this was my time with them. I’d have to think about what I dislike, because I really don’t. I love teaching and I love to share knowledge and have conversations with them. I love being able to talk about whatever we want and how that time allows us more time to help others.  

Is there anything you would like to share about your home school?

Not really mine, but just a thought that while completely rewarding, homeschooling is hard. It takes time, patience, love, and thought. It takes energy I may not have, and a reliance on God I may not feel all the time. Having said that, I am honestly not sure what I will do when these two graduate as, because of Angela, I won’t be able to work outside the home. Maybe I’ll find some friends (or maybe grands) who want me to homeschool their littles!

Homeschooling from Arizona

Please introduce yourself and your family to us and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

My name is Juliette, and my husband is Victor. We have five kids. Twins age 11, John and Joshua. Jeffrey age 10, Sarah age 4, and Christina age 18 months. We live in Arizona, in the valley. We love to swim, get outdoors, and to read.

How long have you been homeschooling?

We’ve been homeschooling since the boys started learning more formally, whenever that was! Haha! Probably about seven or eight years, more or less. Unless you want to count just learning from life, then it would 11 1/2 years. 😊

Why did you decide to homeschool?

I grew up homeschooled and I didn’t want to expose my children to the philosophies and peer pressures of public schools, and I knew it was the best thing for my kids. My mom taught my brother and sister and me. I had friends who went to church school and public school, and I saw the difference between our lives and theirs, and the attitudes they brought home with them. Even now, I see the difference between my kids’ attitudes and the attitudes of the kids they play with both at church and around the neighborhood.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

We don’t really follow any particular curriculum, so it’s very relaxed.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

It must prepare them not only for life here on earth but also for heaven!

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to homeschool, and why?

We have a few workbooks that I picked up at Walmart and Costco for math and basic writing/English/spelling, and then we read some books for different subjects, and life experiences are the rest. Most of my books have come from the library, and more recently I have been getting some really great ones from my business as an Usborne consultant.

Are you the primary “teacher,” or does your spouse or other family members participate with homeschooling?

I primarily teach since Victor is gone trucking all week, though he helps some with life lessons when he is home on Sabbath.

What does a typical homeschooling day look like in your home?

We start out with chores (getting dressed making the bed, personal devotions) and worship; then after breakfast we try to have time for workbooks, and then do some music practice, reading, Bible study, and hands-on learning. Then, if it’s hot, we go swimming, or like right now, colder, we go for a walk. Then we fix lunch and while that is cooking, the kids like to watch science programs on Netflix or YouTube. After lunch about 3 p.m. comes cleanup, chores, and laundry. By that time the neighbor kids are home from school, so they go play for awhile. Then, if we didn’t go earlier we sometimes go swimming. After that, we just do some quick pickup in the living room, before having reading time (me reading to them) and worship. 

I should add that the typical day is what we strive for, what I want to see happen. We don’t always hit the mark. Always working toward that, though, and on good days we do make it through.

What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I love that we can study books or just learn from hands on, and they don’t have to be forced to sit still for hours. We can change things up if it’s not going so well. Also, it’s cheap!

Homeschooling from Wisconsin

Please introduce yourself and your family to us, and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

My name is Joella Show. I married my husband in 2004. We have two boys, Christopher who will be 11 in a few weeks, and his little brother Jonathan who is 9. My husband works for Wisconsin Academy and we are a faculty family there. Prior to this move we lived in Michigan.

How long have you been home schooling ?

We have homeschooled our boys since birth. 

Why did you decide to home school?

I can not imagine sending my boys away from home for many hours each day.  I would miss them to much!  I always hoped I could home school my children. My older son has a learning disability which “cemented” our commitment to homeschool our boys. 

What style of home schooling does your family follow?

We use a traditional style of homeschooling. We follow a flexible schedule. The boys thrive on knowing what to expect.

Do you have a philosophy about home schooling?

I believe every family and every child has different circumstances. One school environment may work for one child and not for another child.  I do not believe homeschooling, public school, or private school is the best option for every child. 

In our situation, homeschool is our best option. A schedule is a must. We prefer school work with as little “busy work as possible.”  We want to get through the important stuff as soon as possible so we can have the rest of the day free to do other things.

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to home school, and why?

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I can choose an individual curriculum that works for the learning needs of each child.   

For example, I have tried at least four different math programs with my children. 

As a family we use My Bible First for morning devotions, Young Disciple for Bible Class, Rosetta Stone Spanish, Getting Started with Spanish, Apologia Science, Beginning Christian English Skills, English from the Roots Up, True Education Reader, and New American Cursive. We use these resources as a family. For science/history/geography we are studying the ecosystem/biome, history, art, and culture of a different country every one to two weeks. 

Jonathan: Singapore math and Building Spelling Skills.

Christopher:Math U See and All About Spelling. 

Are you the primary “teacher,” or does your spouse or other family members participate with home schooling?

I am the primary teacher, but I just took over this school year. My husband was the primary school teacher for the past four years when I was working full time. Now we have flip-flopped roles, and we are very happy about the swap!

What does a typical home schooling day look like in your home?

Wake up and complete morning routine, including drinking water, making bed, doing worship, getting dressed, and sorting/starting the laundry. Then we eat and clean up breakfast.

Then we do Bible, handwriting, This Day in History, Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader, math, Pyramid/Metronome occupational therapy exercise, piano practice, reading time, Spanish, spelling, reading. 

Then lunch…

After lunch we do geography, science, and art.  Then we clean up the house and play. 

We attend recess at the local church school several times a week. 

We read a lot most evenings. We also take part in a lot of Wisconsin Academy activities.

What do you love the most about home schooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I love having my kids at home and I love that I have control of what they are learning! I don’t like mommy guilt. I often wonder if I could do things better or if I am missing something important in their education. I don’t like interruptions in the school schedule during the day.   

Is there anything you would like to share about your home school?

I highly encourage homeschool parents to attend homeschool conferences!

Homeschooling from Minnesota

The family: Michael, Vicky, Marc, and Charity.

Please introduce yourself and your family to us, and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

Our family consists of two kids, Marc, age 18, and Charity, age 11. We live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, USA. My husband, two cats, an adopted brother/uncle/brother-in-law, and myself complete our family. 

How long have you been homeschooling ?

We have homeschooled our entire education journey. My kids have never attended a regular school.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

It was not my plan, but God led in that direction through a variety of shut doors. What began as a one-year journey is now going on 13 years with my kids, plus two additional years when I tutored other children when Marc was a toddler.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

My own. In a pure sense it is probably closer to school at home because of my tutoring and working with other children who had the goal of returning to the classroom.

Charity mentors a group of third-grade students as part of her orchestra’s outreach program.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

Make sure you are committed, your spouse and family are committed, and that you can endure through the hard times. Let God lead, and be open to change as situations develop. Be willing to change if your plans aren’t a good fit for for you, your child, or family. Have fun. Pray without ceasing.

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to homeschool and why?

We use books, the internet, friends, and extended family…anything that would be of interest.

Marc plays guitar during Pathfinder Sabbath.

My curriculum is eclectic now, but I started out in my early years using a boxed curriculum. In my early research I found that a single-publisher curriculum such as Abeka or BJU or other complete curriculum produced the best results in a classroom setting, so I went that route. Later on as I got to know my son’s needs, I branched out.

Are you the primary “teacher” or does your spouse or other family members participate with homeschooling?

I am the primary teacher, but we use Skype for selected classes such as Spanish with the Homeschool Spanish Academy and for tutoring help from my parents. (Please note my son is in an online school and not being homeschooled at this time.) My kids also have different teachers for music.

What does a typical homeschooling day look like in your home?

Morning routine is pretty relaxed, with us in the classroom having worship between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Lunch is about 12 noon. Afternoon activities vary in time: orchestra on Monday evening, mentoring on Tuesday afternoon, violin lesson on Wednesday afternoon. choir Thursday evening, and Pathfinders on the weekend.

Marc works on Tuesday, and has choir Wednesday evening.

Marc on the first day of his senior year (U.S. grade 12)

What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I love the flexibility, and the ability to adapt to the current situation and to focus on special units based on current interest or upcoming travel.

Is there anything you would like to share about your homeschool? 

I am so glad God led us in this road even though it isn’t always easy.