Homeschooling Advice 101: Catherine

what does it mean?

To homeschool for our family is to continue what we started when they first arrived into this world. To encourage our boys' growth and development in all areas. (Some is done as formal seatwork using bits and pieces of curriculum, most is allowing natural exploration of the world)

how do you do it practically?

We focus on the 3 R's (Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic) and interest topics. We try to keep it simple - if I feel like we're getting bogged down then take stock and get back to basics. We aim for 3-D learning i.e. learning in the real world by experiencing rather than being verbally told or looking at pictures. Our big focus is on reading. We want all our boys to be good readers as then they will be set up for life. They are read to daily and we are well stocked in books.

how do you cope with all the children (24/7)?

We only have three which is small compared with some families. We try to follow an orderly routine that isn't clock based but based on each individual child's attention span. (and mother's attention span!). The two younger children have one on one time and the eldest boy works independently with one on one time at the end of the morning. I have tried to train the boys, (works successfully most of the time), to respect teaching time with each boy and not interrupt. This leaves 2 boys to play together if they are not doing school work. Usually after they have quality time with me during formal school work, they are happy to do their own thing in the afternoon so feel like I get a bit of space from them. I enjoy being around my children and the noise (usually!). If boundaries are well defined and enforced they are generally happy and easy to be around. Of course there are quite a few testing days!

how will I get it all done?

Declutter the schedule regularly - so easy to try and cram in too much. Do the very basics well and allow lots of freedom for child to explore.

what does your day look like?

Mon/Tues/Weds morning: seatwork time with all three boys. Each progresses through 3 R's. Add Music on Monday, Spanish on Tuesday and Science on Weds. Special topic theme may occur these three days especially with our eldest. Term 1 and 2 he has elected to study the Medieval Crusades. Thursday is a catch up day, we play sports in the morning if the first 3 days are completed. Friday am is free time for grocery shopping, go to library, visiting or having visitors. If no plans we try to schedule an adventure, (bush walk etc), The afternoons tend to be free. Boys play spontaneously e.g construction projects, Lego, artwork, baking, cooking. Will have some household jobs each week they are expected to help with. Swimming Friday pm, Soccer practices. DVDs and computer allowed after 4pm Weds onwards.

what if your partner isn't on board with it yet?

I wouldn't do it -would be too hard. Maybe negotiate a trial period of homeschooling and allow an honest assessment at the end of it.

what if I prefer natural learning - what will ERO think?

From what I understand they are very supportive. When we had ERO visit, he asked my son what he did on Thursday, (seeing his timetable was empty). "That's our catch up day!" he replied while I cringed expecting a rap over the knuckles. "What a wonderful idea!" he replied. "Everyone should have a catch up day!" Made me realise. Sometimes less is more! I hope this is helpful for some.