(Editor’s Note: This week we welcome the Soodsma family to Tuesdays at Our House. We love to read about what homeschooling looks like in other homes– it’s the best way to see the variety of styles and “flavors” of homeschool! If you’d like to share a typical homeschool day with us, please send an email to Tuesdays@thehomewriter.com.)
I have been asked to describe a typical homeschooling day in our family. The best thing I can say about our homeschooling adventure is that for us, there is no such thing as a typical homeschooling day. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. To the outside world, I look pretty normal (well, except when I have my hair dyed purple, but that’s another story), but my family sees another side of me. I can wake up feeling great and then get hit with a wave of pain and fatigue an hour later that lands me in bed for the next three days. Or I might have a great week followed by a month of horrible pain and fatigue.
Plans vs. Goals
To manage our homeschooling journey, I don’t make plans because plans all go to the wayside when the fatigue hits. Instead, I make goals. It might take us a week to reach the goal (or even a month), but we just keep plodding along. We’ve never done a vocabulary worksheet. Ever. Yet, when my son was 11, he tested at post-college level in vocabulary. We didn’t start grammar or writing until he was in high school and he made an A in the last writing class he took through co-op. So, it has worked for us.
When the kids were little, I did a lot of unschooling. We never did traditional workbooks or curriculum. Instead, we watched a lot of videos based on the kids’ interests. We also did a lot of family reading time. When I felt good, we did hands-on projects and science experiments, and we went on field trips. Over the years, my kids have seen more in the real world than most adults. We toured a recycling center, water purification plant, water reclamation plant, historical sites, the Renaissance Hotel, museums and so much more that I can’t even list here.
Just to give you an example of unschooling for us: Around the age of 12, my son asked to learn about the Civil War. We watched the Ken Burns miniseries on the Civil War. We read a ton of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I used Homeschool in the Woods Time Travelers CD about the Civil War for project ideas. We were able to go to a Civil War reenactment. We invited friends over to have our own Civil War battle and feast with foods from the time period. My son made a cannon out of PVC pipes and a set of wheels from an old lawn mower. We were able to travel to Holly Springs, MS, to see an antebellum home tour. They really learned a lot about the Civil War without a textbook in sight.
Now that my kids are older, we use more traditional curriculum at their request. We also utilize co-op classes with other homeschoolers. Our “typical” day looks more like school now that my kids can work independently. Both use Teaching Textbooks for their math and Rosetta Stone for Spanish. They can work on most of their schoolwork without my help. Now I am more of a facilitator for them. I’m available if they need help with something, but I don’t do a lot of teaching anymore.
Bottom line, do what works for you and your family. What works for one may not work for another. Thankfully homeschooling in Oklahoma allowed me the freedom to do relaxed homeschooling.