When people think of homeschooling, they typically think of homeschoolers as falling into one of four categories. The super religious who want to shelter their kids from the heathens of the outside world and make sure that they are raised with a good Christian education. The unschoolers who think that structured education is soul crushing and prefer to let their children run wild and learn from their environment. The superior-minded homeschoolers who think they can do a better job than the over-extended and over-regulated school system. And the parents of children with special needs who feel like their kids would get lost in the chaos by already over-worked teachers.
And then there is my family. We are a family of four living in Central Virginia on a little backyard homestead. My husband is a clinical psychologist, and I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mom (with unused degrees in law and chemical engineering). We aren’t religious. I am intrigued by the idea of unschooling but too set in my ways after 20 years of being a “perfect student.” I do think I can do a better job than the schools if I put my mind to it (all I have to do is get the dishes and the laundry done first). And we pretty much fell into homeschooling when my son’s preschool teacher couldn’t handle his inability to sit in circle time or transition to a new activity after 15 minutes.
I am not one of those homeschoolers who sets the alarm for 7am and then sticks to a strict schedule of 4+ hours of school work. Often, my day involves staying up until 2am planning a fantastic day of homeschool lesson plans and activities. Then I sleep until 11am, declare it a “watch documentaries while mommy rests” day and feel guilty for not getting anything done. Of course, that’s not how every day goes. Sometimes we take amazing field trips to a science museum or we go on a history scavenger hunt. Other days we go geocaching and take nature photos and google marbled salamanders. Sometimes my husband sits in my son’s room until almost midnight explaining how exoplanets are discovered.
We take a relaxed and natural approach to learning. We are flexible and spontaneous but we also have a healthy mix of scheduled activities thrown in. Sometimes we do school work first thing in the morning and sometimes starting at 9pm and other days not at all. We don’t take summers or holidays off. We work learning in whenever we feel so compelled. We always try to be outside in nature, and we use a lot of science and nature in all areas of learning. And we take a lot of field trips.
For the most part, it seems to be working! Both of my kids are bright, inquisitive and curious kids with tremendous vocabularies and a love for nature, science, art, music, books and more. I’m not sure whether it is just good genes or I am doing something right with my sporadic homeschooling method or a combination of both, but I plan to keep at it!
Thanks for reading!