I know I don’t talk too much about my homeschooling adventures here, beyond the random unit study post or a summary of our Outdoor Adventure Group (speaking of which, I need to write up our latest adventure). However, Homeschool Atheist Momma has some homeschooling questions for her readers that she’s curious about. I enjoy reading her posts, and thought I’d add my answers to the conversation. You can see her answers and a list of the questions at Questions for You. Here are my answers:
1. What prompted you to begin homeschooling?
It’s something I’d tossed around in the back of my mind for a while, but thought it would be too hard to manage since I was working part-time outside of the home. However, when Mr. Curiosity started third grade, and the curriculum became “let’s teach to the state test” that occurs in third grade, we started having some problems with school. He wasn’t being challenged. With the gifted program eliminated, we couldn’t expect the in class teacher to offer enrichment programs. The administration encouraged us to offer “enrichment at home,” which we decided to do, without the time suck that was public school.
2. What homeschool books have encouraged you on your journey?
Before I even started homeschooling, I had read Laura Grace Weldon’s Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. which gives so many options for learning outside the traditional view of school. I also found Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Eduction by John Taylor Gatto to put many of my problems with public into words. (I reviewed the book here.)
3. Do you have a favorite read aloud book?
Oh yes, many. Off the top of my head, I love reading Rudyard Kipling’s stories from The Jungle Book. I also had a lot of fun reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
4. If you could only have three homeschooling books/curriculum, which would you choose?
We are not curriculum people. What we do use all the time is the internet. At this point, we can’t live without Khan Academy for math and the YouTube channel Crash Course for history (American and world) and science (Mr. Curiosity loves the chemistry best, always has). Mr. Curiosity is willing to add “the library” to our list of essentials.
5. Where can we find your favorite homeschooling blogs?
Some of my favorites are Homeschool Atheist Momma, Project-Based Homeschooling, and wonderfarm.
6. What do you to do to demonstrate continual learning to your kids?
In our family, we continually ask questions about what things are, why they happen, what’s going on, and so on. I’ve picked up a variety of nonfiction books that I will regularly pull out to answer my own questions. I read a lot, and like to share some of the fun facts I pick up in my nonfiction. I also develop my own projects to do, so the kids can see me working on activities that excite me (ala Project-Based Homeschooling).
7. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a crazy day?
A cup of tea and a book works every time.
8. Is there a quote you find inspiring?
I’ve been making an effort to write down quotes that I do find inspiring. I’m going to go with one by Colin Beaven from No Impact Man (which I review here): “There is a limit to how much less harm I can do. But my potential for good is unlimited.”
9. What did you do to prepare for homeschooling?
Choose a topic to study for the month or so, find some books that correspond to the topic. Decide what exactly I’m hoping Mr. Curiosity gets done today and let him have at it.
10. Where do you find your best support for homeschooling?
Reading blogs online.
11. Where do you encounter the most difficulty in homeschooling?
Finding local homeschoolers to hang out with and making sure Mr. Curiosity gets to play with friends regularly. So many of the homeschoolers I know are homeschooling for religious reasons (which I am definitely NOT doing) and are doing cyber school or other school at home curriculum (which we also do not do). I feel a little lonely at times.
12. How do you challenge yourself to be a better teacher?
I am continually looking to see what others are doing and thinking about whether or not that will work for our family. I am trying to learn how my kids learn best so I can tailor their work to their skills while making sure they’re learning enough.
13. What is your schedule like?
We don’t have much of one. I try to make sure we get something started by at least 10am and we usually stop trying to do anything scholarly by 3pm. Otherwise, it’s up to Mr. Curiosity as to what he gets done exactly when.
14. What has been your best accomplishment as a homeschooling parent?
I love watching Mr. Curiosity get interested in a topic and then just follow it down the rabbit hole. I’ve also been very happy that the past month or so, he will sit down at the piano and practice some of his songs without being asked.
15. What item has made the most significant impact to your homeschooling?
I’d have to say the Internet and the library are very closely tied. I don’t buy curriculum or many books, since we can find pretty much anything we want either online or at the library.
16. What is the most important thing that you want your children to come away with as a homeschooling graduate?
The ability to ask questions and be able to find the answers on their own without someone needed to guide them at either of those steps.