Homeschooling: Break? Year Round? First Day of Homeschool? Q & A

I did not want you to be left confused. I feel like explaining things that are difficult for some people to understand. I decided to do this in the form of a Q &A, but ask and answer the question myself. The questions people have asked of me.

Q: Do you take a summer break, or do you homeschool year-round?

A: Niether and Both. We do relaxed homeschooling and tidal wave homeschooling, a form of education which means that we are like the tide coming in and going out.

We try to do as best we can to get to where I consider to be “at grade level” in each subject for each child. We do not ever stop working on this, but we are also not always concernd about this.

We have ebbs and flows. Sometimes, with much effort, we learn a whole bunch and progress a lot in a period of time (this sometimes looks like an accelerated school for the gifted or early college, and sometimes looks like a 1900 one-room schoolhouse). At other times, we are more like unschoolers. Sometimes, we have a day that looks like montessori school. Sometimes, we have a field trip day. When people visit or we visit others, we have a day completely dedicated to only socializing. When we visited Grandma Preece or when Uncle Steven came over, we dropped all of our concerns and cares, and just visited. The kids learn plenty by visiting and socializing with others.

Q: Homeschoolers do not have to start school when the public schools begin. Isn’t that right?

A: This has a long answer, too. We do not have to, but because of classes we signed up for, we do.

We enroll in some classes not led by me but by teachers my husband and I chose or hired. One of these is free and it is The Church Seminary Program. (Oh, did you catch that? I almost used the acronym). Early Morning Seminary this year begins the same day public school begins in my area. This means that although we do not really care when homeschool begins or ends, I can choose a day when I can say something officially begins. It is the day Seminary begins.

The hired teachers and has also chosen certain dates to begin their classes, vacation days and end dates. Likewise, many homeschool parents join “co-ops,” which are groups of homeschoolers who get together and do learning together. These co-ops have a set schedule. A co-op has a start date, vacation dates and end dates, too.

I would not want to have the first day of homeschool for the kids which have teachers who’ve given them start-dates, and not have this for the younger 4. After all, the younger 4 are so looking forward to “doing homeschool” officially again. Their siblings are officially starting and so are their neighborhood friends and cousins.

This would be when I to the part called “get the kids ready for the first day of school (by clothes shopping at the back to school clothing sales) as a mom” and the part where I do “put in full-time hours of preparation of the homeschool room, planning and getting ready for homeschool to officially begin on August 27, like a paid public school teacher,” at the same time. (The second part includes getting in on back to school curriculum and supplies sales).

Speed Tour of my Recently Cleaned and Re-Organized Homeschool Room

Of course, many teacher moms do this. They get their own gets ready and sent off, and they also go to the school all day for a couple weeks to get their public school classroom ready.

This “Photographer Mom” is prepared to do “First Day of Homeschool 2018” photos next week!

It’s just a little different. I do not get paid and I do not have to get someone to tend the kids while I go off to work. They are here and I am here, which means I do the prep work and they wish I wouldn’t because it means I am not giving them the attention they would like. It is hard on the kids here, as they are eager to “officially start school” again, and frustrated that their mom is working on prepping and pretty much just letting them “fend for themselves” (except the littlest, who at least gets fed by mom and gets a lot of attention because he demands it).

I hope this helps everyone to understand my world so that they are not confused. There are so many different ways to homeschool. Sometimes, there are jokes or memes on the internet that give one impression, and the people who do not know that all homeschools are different get so upset when things are not the way a youtube video says they are.

This one is a funny one by “It’s a Southern Thing.”

Tell me, are the others exaggerated? Yeah. So do you think the homeschool mom one is? Think about it. I am a homeschool mom and I still laughed at it. I was not upset by the inaccuracy. I know it’s all exaggerated and it is a joke. It’s very funny. If you like it, subscribe, because all of their videos are just as humorous!

For the record, homeschool moms and kids do get dressed in day clothing because they are very busy. We get dressed for the same reasons that you get dressed during the summer. Also, homeschool moms usually put together or join in on a “Not Back to School” park day or party on the first day of local public school. We all know when school starts, including those who do unschooling! We all look forward to getting the museums and parks back to uncrowded. We love it when school starts and are very aware!

I am most like the photographer mom, by the way. I am very sentimental, an artist and a graphic designer, after all! So, yeah, homeschool moms are all different, too, and we have personalities that are all different from the personalities of other homeschool moms. We love our variety and differences!

“Homeschool Dailies”

Some days we are just like Unschoolers and we have unschool days, where some kid work on art and some learn science. They learn, but they learn what they want to learn. Some days, I teach a formal lesson to all of the family at once. Some days, we watch DVD lessons taught by amazing teachers so I can rest and let someone else teach.

A great many of the days, the kids ask me what they should do for homeschool, and I give each individual a list, which is generally the same for that child, every time we do this kind of a day. 

“Homeschool Dailies”


It is such a tradition and has lasted so long (most things don’t) that today I decided to make it official. This morning I made a list for each child called “Homeschool Dailies,” which is this list of things that I generally assign them every time we have a day when I want them to just do those repeated things I usually list for them. These are things which I think they are used to doing, don’t generally give me any complaints about (because they most generally have agreed that they like them and are o.k. with doing them for learning). These are also things I ask them to do because I have decided for them to do them based on:

  • What their interests are
  • What their weeknesses are for a well-rounded general education
  • The level at which they are understanding and learning
  • The areas which I think their focus needs to be on, or is naturally on at this time
  • Curricula or methods which work best for that child.
  • Curricula or methods I like because they are awesome (the montessori method, for example)
  • Which subjects our family needs the most focus and improvement on

I posted these lists in the homeschool room and will explain them to the kids one at a time to make sure each child understands. It is really a routine that works for us but which is now more official because it is written down and even has a large caption.

I must make it very clear that they will only be doing the “Homeschool Dailies” on days when say, “Today, I want you to do your Homeschool Dailies.” That will not be every day.

For the older and middle kids, “HomeSchool Dailies” are a list of things they can do for homeschool on their own in their textbooks, workbooks and with computer software we have. The list for the oldest will take about 3 hours. The list for the middle children will take about 2 hours.


For the younger kids, “Homeschool Dailies” are a list of things I generally have to do with them because they need a guide and someone who can teach, right by their side. It is an eclectic mix with the majority being Montessori reading and writing. It will take me 1.5 to 2 hours to do that with each child, totalling 3 to 4 hours for me.

My LDS Montessori Teachers Pay Teachers Store

I have just added two more workbooks to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. A cursive handwriting practice book, recommended for 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades has 41 pages. A print handwriting practice book for little girls in preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade has 91 pages. Please check out my store. It is worth it to register on TeachersPayTeachers if you ever teach kids! 

My TPT store

Springtime And Being Very Busy!

I have been so busy gardening, organizing, de-junking and cleaning the house, that I have not made a blog post in a while. This past weekend, my husband and son finished building our Shelf Reliance shelves and we loaded them up with food storage cans. I am excited about that. Lately, we have been working  lot on that. 

On Saturday, before LDS General Conference, I worked hard putting the math in its own binder. It is a red binder, so it stands out from all the white ones I have for other reasons. I went through the math checklists and evaluated, knowing full well what the kids know and don’t, where each one is in math. Then I made lesson plans. I made plans for 6 homeschool days. 

“Pirate,” by my son:

  

Right now, at 7:30 a.m., my daughter is teaching my younger boys. She uses my math checklist for the math. I love the help. One son is telling her emphatically, “I already know my numbers!” He had been stubborn, but he just now passed off an item on the math checklist without any help at all. This is big for him! I am happy. My older daughter and my older son are now enthusiastically and with dancing, teaching them. My daughter just asked me, “Mom, what does fluently mean?” We have decided the one is fluent at a certain concept. Well, it will not be long before he can do even more difficult things fluently. I am so excited.

This is something most people who homeschool understand and most who don’t, don’t: The older kids teach their siblings happily. It’s awesome! It frees me up to focus on being the leader. I am not the leader and the one who does it all. I am just the leader. I give direction and my kids help it happen. They want homeschool to work. They want mom to be happy. They enjoy teaching because it is fun. 

When it comes to teaching siblings to ride bikes, play baseball, work in the garden, cook, clean, make lunch, etcetera, they are all great! I love this about homeschooling. Sometimes, younger ones even help older ones, because maybe that is their favorite subject, or one of their favorites, so they are beyond their years in ability because they have learned so much in a certain area. For example, my son loves science. He teaches his siblings all sorts of things because he “gets it.” I am usually surprised at what he knows. It’s amazing. He has the ability to explain science concepts by jumping up and down and acting them out. It’s fun to watch him. 

My daughter is still in her pajamas but is now looking over the Montessori list of skills and asking me whether this one has learned that yet. I am so grateful for her help in keeping on top of that. I used to have to do it all myself, which after a while, meant I never got to it. It is nice to have someone who gets to it on my behalf. She will be an awesome mom someday. She will be an awesome homeschool mom someday! Whe wants to be an early childhood educator, so all of this fascinates her. It is one of the things she lives for!

My son is reading “Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. He told me that he has 2 bookmarks. He does not like going for so long with these characters before getting back to what those ones are doing. He would rather just go one chapter with these, one chapter with those, instead of 3 chapters, then 3 chapters. Fine with me! He invents stories, too, so I would not be surprised if we get an author here! He is also still in pajamas. Oh, well. I am hoping he gets dressed by 9 a.m.!

Eclectic Homeschooling: A Family- Created Mix

I consider myself an eclectic homeschool mom, and my favorites are 1) religious, 2) unschooling, 3) iPad learning, 4) school at home, 5) TJED Vanguard group, co-ops and field trips, and 5) Montessori. Every eclectic homeschool has a different mix. Every year, my mix has changed. It is called eclectic because it is a mix of styles.

You will find in meeting people who consider themselves eclectic homeschoolers, that every eclectic homeschool has a different mix. Also, you will find that this mix changes, to “roll with the punches.” My mix started out with 1) school at home, 2) religious, 3) Unit studies, and 4) learning games.

My second year, my mix was 1) whole language language arts and Constance Kamii math 2) montessori, 3) religious

I love being an eclectic homeschool mom. This means whatever works best that year, we do. It means I do not shove away something different that I hear about. If it works and we love it, we embrace it!

Housecleaning is Part of Homeschooling

     I write this because I think it is important that people know about my homeschool. My homeschool does not begin after or end before, housecleaning. My homeschool day for the kids includes housecleaning.

     Housecleaning is a skill I want my kids to have, right now (not later, when they get older). Beyond health and grooming, it is a very required element in being able to lead a normal life. If my children do well in academia but cannot keep house, I am a sad woman. This cannot be. 

     Having developed my own curriculum, I have made sure that housecleaning has a very prominent role. My kids, my husband and many others, may not consider this aspect to be part of homeschooling, learning or a good education, but I do. I know this will offend a lot of people, but, in fact, I think it is more important than each of these individually, as well as all of them collectively:

-Math

-Language Arts

-Science

-The Arts

-P.E.

-Social Studies

     Maria Montessori made housecleaning skills, part of the “practical life” portion of her curriculum. This shows that not all who made scientific studies about education, left housecleaning out. Her goal was to prove that children with mental disabilities, if taught in a respectful way with choices for the children, and through repetition, the kids could learn these things and lead normal lives. She knew that housecleaning was part of becoming an independent person who could care for him or herself. “Practical Life” is in the foundation of the Montessori Method.

     Here are some reasons why housecleaning should be placed above, the academic subjects mentioned above.

-Math: Do the math here.

a) Hiring a maid could cost upwards of $800 a month, where I live. This includes little more than the basics. How much money could you save in 12 months, without this cost?

b) Not hiring a maid will require you to spend more on going out to eat, buy ready- made foods, and you’d still have to clean a lot. These food expenditures could cost the average family upwards of $400 a month. How much could you save in a year without that expense?

-Language Arts:

Do you enjoy reading or writing, with a mess all around you? Do you enjoy them on an empty belly, which you have because just looking in the kitchen, you cannot see how making a meal could be possible? How many more books would you be able to fit in your house, were it cleaner? How much more time would you have to read & write, were it cleaner?

-Science:

Science experiments in that messy kitchen? No way! Looking in the microscope on that messy table? Not possible. Feel guilt free going to the museum for a field trip with a house in that state? No, thanks!

-History:

How can you stand to read about all the hard work they did, when you and yours, are so lazy! What would they think of you? Would they just be proud, because you are so good at academia? I think not!

-The Arts:

Ah, Beethoven. How can you not clean when you hear that and see the state of your house? Composing music, unable to hear. What a determined man. Do you think such a determined man knew how to sweep and wash a table?

Monet. All day long, 6 a.m., new canvas: cathedral; 7 a.m., new canvas, cathedral; 8 a.m., new canvas: cathedral. He’d best eat lunch sometime. Perhaps a clean house would help. Barely able to put food on the table in his beginnings, and with a wife who was ill, I am betting he knew how to clean house.

Shakespeare. Can you imagine no Shakespeare because: “Arghh! Where did I put that manuscript? This is so frustrating! I lose everything in this mess! Oh! It has food spilt all over it because I left it out with the food and a cat came and spilt it. I am so mad! And I have forgotten what I wrote! It will not come again. I know it. Oh, forget it. I’d best go work at the lumber mill. I need to eat, after all!”

Dance: Time to pick a dance teacher for your kids. Let’s go pick one with a studio floor, covered in dust and overrun with junk!

-P.E.:

Ope, too bad. No playing catch. Can’t find your mitt and ball. Maybe the soccer ball. Oh, can’t find that, either. Let’s go running. Can’t find your running shoes? Arghh! Oh, well. Let’s just do an aerobics DVD! We know where the T.V. is! What? We have to have a space cleared to move around on the floor? Ah, forget it. Let’s just watch T.V.

     I hope that helps you to see why I feel that housecleaning is much more important than all of those subjects. So when you ask me when are we going to start our homeschool day, while we are cleaning, I will remind you about this post.

Flexible Homeschool Schedule (not calendar-based)

Our Home learning schedule is pretty unique. I have it based on a “Loop Schedule,” and I like it.

I thought you might like to see my complex yet simple homeschool schedule. I have perfected it over time. I found that doing math and Language arts daily, gives me little time and only leaves time for a quick worksheet. I have found that having fewer subjects per day gives me more time with each, enabling us to do more and get into it more. I also found that putting a specific day, such as every Monday and every Wednesday, we do this, or even every fourth Tuesday, we do that, or even every 6 weeks, we do this or that, does not work, because then, inevitably, we skip something the kids have been looking forward to, like “Cooking,” or “Sewing,” because it is a sick day or a field trip day. This also has no scheduled field trips, because I don’t usually know whether we are truly going, until the morning of.

I made sure that I prioritized the subjects the way I think is best for our family. I put in specifics for mornings, afternoons and evenings, because they are so important to the Homeschool days. Cleaning at night and having the kids shower the afternoon before, assure us that we won’t have to do those during the homeschool days.

This is flexible with which days we do them as well as which hours we do them. I like that. It makes it so that we’ll never skip a subject. We won’t move off of that shape & color day until we have completed the items included on the paper for that shape & color. It is possible that we could do them on Saturdays. It is possible we could take 2 days to do one, and it is also possible to complete 2 or 3 colored shapes in one day on some days when we want to get a lot done.

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Montessori Pink words set 2

Montessori Pink words set 2

I made this 2nd set because my daughter had mastered the 1st set I made. She did very well and I am afraid she will breeze through it, soon. I went to thehelpfulgarden.blogspot.com to find out what to do next. I printed a bunch of stuff. I cut some of it out. I need more white printer cardstock now. I use so much for montessori stuff. I love the montessori method. It seems to work, even though I don’t follow it fully.

I also decided we’ll do 2 pages in our Discover The Book of Mormon Books, each day, instead of 1. I feel we are moving too slowly through it. I love it. It teaches the kids so much and teaches me so much, too. It rocks. I highly recommend it.

I have decided to stop posting homeschool stuff on Facebook, except for other homeschool families to see. I think people get the wrong impressions about homeschool, and I’d rather give them no impressions at all, than the wrong ones.