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. 

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.