Homeschooling with Angela

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

Hello! 

     My name is Angela Denis. Here is my family: my husband, John; my mother-n-law, Sophie; my son, Adam; and my daughter, Naomi. We are in the state of Florida.

How long have you been homeschooling?

It’s only been this year in August that I have begun to homeschool my seven-year-old boy. 

Why did you decide to homeschool?

The reason why I decided to homeschool was because Adam was having some issues in school because of his autism.  It came to the point in time that during his IEP ( Individual Education Plan), it was discussed where else to place him because of his behavior in wanting to disrobe himself in the classroom. So, it was addressed to me that in the interim, whether to check out another choice of school; and, I could also apply for the Gardiner Scholarship which is a scholarship suited for families with children with autism, Down Syndrome, etc. 

What style of Homeschooling does your family follow?

I try various learning styles, visual, music/auditory, verbal, physical/kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, social, and sometimes solitary. I haven’t yet seen where he falls mostly. However, I think it could be a little bit of all of them. When it comes to learning songs, he loves when I either write them out into his composition book or type them out. He loves classical, hymns, and scripture songs. He’s now getting piano lessons from mom while I’m learning too. We’re working on verbal by me asking open ended questions. As for the physical, we walk sometimes around the block and sometimes other areas. When he wants to take a break outside, he likes to jump on his trampoline. Now that we have a backyard, he loves to explore, jump on the trampoline, and play with the dirt while learning. He knows his phone number by jumping on the trampoline, and he’s learning how to tie his shoe.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This is my philosophy in getting things done. 

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

Although I’m using Sonlight, I’m using a few other things such as sensory games and other resources.  My prime resource is the Bible, as well as scripture songs and hymns. Recently I have created with them a poster board of bible reading, scriptures from A-Z. I like Sonlight. I find the books fascinating from our library. 

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

I am the primary teacher by day, and my husband and I at night. 

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

My son is a very jovial boy (in spite of his autism). He challenges me more each day as I get him to begin with our “Time with Jesus.” It starts with sharing object lessons, then talking about the character quality and reading the Family Bible stories in the Sonlight Education Ministry Curriculum. I can’t say that our days have been the same, but it has been for some parts of the day and sometimes we have to do something different. It’s always a test and trial period to see what he can comprehend. We sometimes get to sing together, do science experiments, and go for walks. He knows that whenever he wants to go on the computer, I say “pause,” and that’s his cue to come to me to do something in the kitchen — for example, putting away the dishes or watching and assisting me with his breakfast and lunch, which to me, is like ABA therapy, which he has not experienced on a professional perspective. He comes to help me in the laundry room. He’s able to put away his own clothes. I try to keep the routine going so that while communicating with him, he is connecting and reviewing in his mind what I have introduced to him, whether it’s through his memory verses, life skills activities, or school work from either his language arts, science, math, or Bible. I take him every Wednesday to the church to distribute Sabbath school bags, placing them on each classroom door. And again on Thursdays, we go to the community service center to help with anything that I think he can do.  Lately, it has come to the point that he watches me as he plays with the plastic hangers. 🙂 But at first, he was able to sort the books by colors, fold some towels, and put together shoes into bins.  My days with him can be so amazing that out of the blue he will say something or sing a song that I know is only from the Spirit of God working with him to bring a smile to my face, and all I can do is whisper and say, “Thank you, God. Praise your name, Jesus!”

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

From the time my children were born, the thought of homeschooling was always in the front of my mind. It’s only now because of life changes that I can truly do so. I love the fact that I can mold my son to recognize what it means to have a sense of order — to be neat and tidy, to be obedient, helpful, diligent, thankful; to do skills that will probably help him in the future. He’s currently learning to play the piano. He hasn’t been given that opportunity outside homeschooling, so by homeschooling I can, and I am loving it. Lord willing, if I could I would love for him to pursue this as a love. From early childhood, he has had the love for music just like his sister. They love musical movies and we have shared some family favorites. Music has been the best therapy for him, and among other things such as cooking with mom, taking care of himself, grooming, learning his phone number, tying his shoes — all has been taught through homeschooling. I can’t seem to think of what I least like about it, only that I would definitely have to live in a state that supports it, and so far I am blessed that I live in one that does.  Praise be to God!

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

All together, homeschooling is a wonderful experience. I’ve have friends who have questioned me about it, but I can truly say that the ones that have  have said to me that I have made the right choice. I can see that I have made the right choice whether my son was or was not autistic. Having taken the time to look into it, it can benefit all children — but it all depends on the parent, right?

Homeschooling from Colorado with Crystal

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

I am Crystal Reavis, and I am 31 years old. My wonderful husband, David, and I have been married 10 years, and we have two awesome children. Gauge, a boy, is seven years old; and Kahlan, a girl, is six weeks. We are a family that loves to play and laugh together. We live in Colorado, but I am originally from New Mexico. Both my husband and son are from North Carolina, and my daughter was born here in Colorado, but I tell her she is my Southern Belle. 🙂

How long have you been homeschooling?

We have been homeschooling for three years, and we plan to continue through high school.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

We felt God calling us to homeschool before our son was old enough to start school. We also wanted to homeschool because we didn’t feel that we wanted our son to be influenced by the world. We wanted to know what he is learning is wholesome, and that people around him shared our beliefs. We cannot protect our children from everything, but we can limit exposure.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

We use a mix of things, I think. We usually use several curriculums, but we also use child-led studies when my son finds something he really wants to learn. We also use unit studies for certain subjects.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

I am not sure we have a philosophy so much as just knowing what we are doing is right for our family.

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

We use the Bible, You Tube videos, unit studies, and a mix of curriculums usually. I can’t really say what curriculums, because we usually add something new every year. LOL.

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

I am the primary teacher, but my husband will teach computers, and help with math and anything else he and my son want to learn at any given time. He is very supportive and loves to help.

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

We get up, have breakfast, Bible time; I will do chores while my son does math. We take a short break, do language arts next, typically, then art, science, and lunch with a short play time. We will then do history, social studies, watch educational videos, and review some of what we did that day, and that usually ends the day for us.

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

What I love the most is being with my kids. I love watching my son learn something new and really understand it, knowing that I helped with that; and seeing his eyes light up when he gets it, really gets it! His excitement is contagious. I can’t help but smile and feel good. What I dislike the most is not getting out of the house very much; we love to do things, but we don’t really get out as much as I would like. That is something we are going to have to work on.

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

We try to make it fun, we take breaks when stressed, we are a family, and that comes first above school work.

Homeschooling Interview from the Netherlands with Marjorie

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

My name is Marjorie Alberts. I’m married to Simon and we have a daughter, Naomi (almost four), and a son, Ruben (two). We live in the Netherlands.

How long have you been homeschooling?

Here in the Netherlands children start school at the age of four, but officially they need to be in school by five years old. Therefore, our children are not yet school age, so officially we’re not homeschooling yet. But, to get some experience, we started earlier this year doing a few short lessons a week — homeschooling with training wheels so to speak. 😉 In June 2017  we’re going to ask permission to homeschool.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

When Naomi was about six months, we met a family who had homeschooled their (grownup) daughters. They introduced us to homeschooling and advised us to homeschool our child(ren). Homeschooling is very unusual in the Netherlands. My husband and I took some time to pray and talk about it.

We believe it is very important to instill our Seventh-day Adventist values/lifestyle in our children, especially when they are young. There is no public/private school close by that has the same conviction. That’s one of the main reasons we made the decision to homeschool.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

Since we are so early in our homeschool journey, we are  starting to develop our style. So far we use the “one-hour homeschool,” and we are interested in the Moore formula, Charlotte Mason, and unit studies.

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

What I use the most for making lesson plans is the internet: mainly Pinterest and different blogs. We are regular visitors to our library. The kids love to go to the story hour for toddlers/preschoolers. After that the kids pick a few books they like, and I pick some to go with our monthly theme.

Ruben and Naomi both have swimming lessons, and Naomi has martial arts class, with a great emphasis on social skills. Aside from all that our home is a kind of resource for schooling. The children are helping and learning when we do household chores like watering our veggie garden, doing laundry, or picking up the mail from the doormat. 

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

My husband and I share the teaching. We both work outside of the home: he works almost full time and I work part time (two to three days a week). Since I am home more often, I do most of the lessons I planned for our daughter, but my husband also does a lesson with her regularly.

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

I work as a nurse in the ICU (intensive care unit) on all the shifts — early, late, nights, and weekends. So, our weekly/daily schedule at home is planned around my working schedule. At the moment we homeschool Naomi twice a week, doing “one-hour homeschool,” where I plan six 10-minute lessons (circle time/Bible, language, math, nature, a game, and a craft) connected to the monthly theme. Ruben is not yet interested in most of the lessons, but every now and then he participates in a few lessons. At the moment it is quite easy to combine the homeschooling and our jobs. I don’t know if it will stay do-able when the learning gets more serious. Time will tell.

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

I feel really blessed with our son and daughter. I cherish all the little moments where they proudly show how they put on their shoes for the first time or tell me a new English word she has learned. I love having my kids close by. And, I really like the flexibility of homeschooling.

A downside of the homeschooling is that it is so uncommon in our country. Therefore, it is not so easy to find good material which is ready-to-use. I plan my own lessons, using a variety of resources and regularly translating English material. I like searching the internet and finding new, exciting, good stuff, but it takes a lot of time and effort.

Homeschooling Interview from Colorado with Shama

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

Hi. I’m Shama and have two boys, ages 12 and five. My husband, boys, and I enjoy living in a small town in rural Colorado, USA.

How long have you been homeschooling?

This is our eighth year of homeschooling. Both boys have been homeschooled from the beginning.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

We kind of fell into homeschooling. I knew I wanted to stay at home when my kids were babies/toddlers. When we moved to a small rural town, we realized our options for good schools were limited. Additionally, my husband was traveling a lot as a concert piano technician, so we liked the idea of having flexibility in our schedule. After some discussion we decided to try homeschooling. We soon were convicted that it was the right choice for our family.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

We follow an eclectic mix of traditional, Charlotte Mason, and relaxed homeschooling. Every year seems to be a little different, and sometimes we shift gears mid-year when we need to mix it up a little.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

I don’t think there is one style of homeschooling that is better than another. I think finding the style that fits your family’s situation, your personality, and your children’s needs is the method that’s best. My philosophy, I suppose, is to continually assess what areas we need to focus on, and keep adjusting the sails. For us this turned into a yearly focus. One year we focused on reading to get up to speed, the next was math, the next history, and another was science. This year we are focusing on improving writing skills and character building. The other subjects fall into place around our area of focus. Having this process has helped me to not feel overwhelmed each year.

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

We have used a wide variety of resources. Reading living books is a favorite, and we are always short of bookcase space. Some of our favorite curriculum sources are Geography Matters (Trail Guide to Learning), Memoria Press, Saxon Math, Explode the Code (phonics), Logos Press (Noeo Science), and Christian Light Education.  We were blessed tremendously using Wowzabrain.com for reading when our oldest was struggling with reading. With their system he advanced three grade levels in six months.

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

I am the primary teacher, but my husband helps with wood shop and auto mechanics. We just don’t call it school. 😉

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

It varies but we try to do Bible and subjects we can all do together first. Then we continue on chores and independent learning later. We are quite flexible with our schedule. Sometimes we do some school in the car on our way to piano lessons, which is an hour away.

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

I love that we can tailor our children’s education to their individual needs. Our boys are developing a close bond as well. I’m also grateful that we can shield them from at least some worldly influences until they are more mature. The most challenging aspect is the constant demand for my attention. I need quiet space to recharge my batteries, and that is sometimes hard to find with this 24/7 endeavor.

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

One thing that has kept me going, besides relying always on the Lord, is the interaction, support, and encouragement from other homeschooling families. It is a blessing to know that so many have answered God’s call to raise up their children in the way they should go. This commitment takes time, energy, sacrifice, and perseverance. May we all continue to support each other through the good days and bad by praying for each other, and sharing resources and words of encouragement.

Homeschooling Interview with Wendy from Oregon

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

Hello. My name is Wendy Glassford, and I am married to my truck driver husband, Tony Glassford. We have four children. The two eldest children are mine before my husband. I have a son, Logan, who is almost 24, and he is living and working in Redding, California. I have a daughter, Heidie, who is 20, and she is a job coach and a job developer for autistic adults. She lives with us now until her apartment is ready. Heidie has my first grandchild, a girl named Khaleesi Leona. She is the prettiest little 5-month-old red-headed baby I have ever seen. I am totally in love with her! My husband and I have a daughter named Mollie, who is 13, and a son named Dusty, who is 12. I homeschool Mollie and Dusty. We live in Winston, Oregon, USA.

How long have you been homeschooling?

I have been homeschooling for three years.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

I honestly can say I did not plan to homeschool. I am a teacher and I was working in our local public school and I was ok with that… My older children graduated from public school, and my younger ones seemed to be doing great there at first. However, when my children were in second grade, we discovered that my son, Dusty, has Asperger’s (a form of autism). He was having a terrible time adjusting to public school, and even Adventist schools, so my husband and I decided the best thing for him was to homeschool him. My daughter immediately decided she wanted to be homeschooled, too. I quit my job and our adventure started. Now I see God’s hand in all of this new life.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

I do not follow any type of style. I do what is best for my children and their learning styles. I do believe academics are very important in this era of life, and I teach them the concepts of all subjects to give them a chance of a career or job in later life. I have found out that both of my children like to concentrate on one subject per day instead of the traditional five to seven subjects daily. They do a week’s worth of that subject once weekly, and they have time to really devour the information instead of bits and pieces everyday. It is less stressful for them to not have to hurry and be timed on a subject. They have all day to learn the weekly assignments and research anything they need extra for that subject. At the beginning of the year they both get to pick their subjects for each day. They do not pick the same subject for that day so they can work independently, and I can give them the  instruction and attention they need accordingly. This works for them very nicely since they both learn differently and are at their own pace. Plus, they don’t have to switch mindsets to a new subject every hour or so. They get a good night’s sleep and start fresh on the next subject the next day.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

Like I said earlier, I never thought I would homeschool. I graduated from public school and I loved most of it. However, God had a different plan for me with my last two children. With my son’s Asperger’s and my daughter’s dyslexia, the public schools here were not knowledgeable enough to give my kids what they needed and deserved. For this reason, I decided to homeschool. However, now that I homeschool and I have gotten closer to my God, I do regret not homeschooling the other children all from the beginning. I look at things so different now, and I know my God wants me to homeschool my children and give them more, especially in a biblical sense. I see the end of time nearing, and I see that my family’s mission is not the world or what the world gives.

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

I’ve tried many curriculums and even made up my own once. We are on a very low income, as well. We are going to try Christian Light Education for seventh grade this year. We really like how it is set up, and it has worked well with the kids on sixth-grade math last year. It has the academics my kids need for the required state testing, but in a biblical view. So, it is more my style if I have one. I didn’t want just curriculum like the public school — full of boring knowledge. I wanted the concepts taught with the biblical aspect, and where my kids could be independent learners without me translating every sentence. I like this program’s high school electives. They teach more than the same type of classes a public or private school teaches. They have home economics, to home and car repairs, to foreign languages, to accounting, etc. — actual classes my children are interested in and want to learn.

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

I am the only teacher in my household. My husband works long hours so I can stay home. However, my husband does talk to them about history or any knowledge he has if they ask him.

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

My children have a notebook where every day I write their daily subject and how many lessons they need to accomplish. They are responsible to have it completed by dinner time, around 5 p.m. I let them manage their own times. They are 12 and 13 and are really good at it. If they need a break, they take it…if they are hungry, they get a snack (I have a list of fresh fruit, yogurt, and veggies that they are allowed to eat at anytime when they are hungry)…if they need mom time to talk or visit, they come to me. I want to prepare my kids to learn to be responsible with their time and everyday activities so they can be self sufficient. They have a schedule of all appointments and things we need to do that day to help them prepare their time so they don’t run out of time before 5 p.m. turn-in time.

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

I love being with my kids every chance I get. I like being the boss of my household in the education department. I don’t have to worry about another educator telling me what they think is best for my children, because I know what is best for my children. I like that my son can have his Christian music on in his room all day without someone telling him no or they are offended. I like that my children are so happy and love to learn now without all the competition, pressure, and bulling. I love that my children say I am the best teacher and they love me homeschooling them. The only thing I hate is that I have to let the government tell me that my kids have to be tested certain years. I am grateful testing is all I have to do because some states have to log hours and make portfolios…thank God Oregon is just a testing state in certain grades. But, I would love the option to never have to deal with anyone on my children’s education. Other than that, I love homeschooling and can’t believe how stress free it is from teaching in a public school, and how my kids just love it.

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

My homeschool is perfect for my children. We do not want a separate room. The kids love their own learning styles and places to do their work. I learn that as long as your homeschooling fits you and your children, that is what matters. All homeschoolers are different because God made us all different…not one is wrong. I have learned to never compare myself with anyone else who homeschools. What works for me may not work for someone else and vice a versa, and that is perfectly alright. I learned to know my kids and their learning styles and to cater to only them. It took a good six months and trial and error of trying different curriculums and schedules, but I listened to my children and set it up for them to learn stress-free and happy. Is my homeschool without daily frustrations? No, because we are human, but if and when a problem comes up, we discuss it and work it out…even having to adjust things if needed. When I learned to not be so uptight and nervous and trying to show others how I thought they wanted it to look, I found peace and realized that all that mattered was my children and teaching them to love learning and not to give up on themselves. It might take longer and we might have to work harder, but in the end it is worth it.