This is part 8 of our 4 Moms 35 Kids series. Visit 3 other moms of large families to see what they have to say about choosing a homeschool method or curriculum:
In the past I’ve blogged about our homeschooling goals and our philosophy. Today I want to tell you a little about our methods.
I’m not going to spill the beans just yet about exactly what curriculum we use, but if you’ve been reading Life in a Shoe for very long you may already have a pretty good idea of the mechanics of our homeschooling day. If not, you’ll have to wait until next week for that. Today I just want to tell you how we arrived at our current method.
Long ago, when all the kids were little, we had a very structured approach to schooling. I honestly don’t remember if this was because I felt the need for a firm structure lest our daily fall into complete chaos or if it was because this was my view of how homeschooling ought to be done.
In those early days, we borrowed much from the Charlotte Mason school of thought, dabbling in Sonlight curriculum, Miquon Math, and much more.
Having a firm structure and a schedule for our day worked well for us back then, though it was a bit stressful. In between Bible and read-alouds and poetry and phonics and math, I had to keep the toddler entertained in the high chair with educational toys so she didn’t destroy the house, and I had to feed the baby and change a steady stream of diapers.
My days were a whirlwind and we often didn’t finish everything on the schedule, but I knew that it was OK as long as nobody went to bed hungry or in a dirty diaper. Hubby was happy with our schedule and the kids were learning new things every day, so I didn’t have to feel like a failure.
Then life changed dramatically on a number of levels. We made an interstate move. We spent 18 months in a travel trailer in my parents’ driveway, adding our 8 to their 12 for a household of 20.
Hubby took a job at a Christian company where children were welcome, so the kids began taking turns going to work with him. They interacted with adults in a very new social environment. They became more computer literate. They heard lectures on creation science, the Biblical roles of family members, and endless messages about US and world history from a distinctly Christian perspective. They learned to follow instructions in a hundred different ways, and they received a lot of character training from their dad.
We bought 5 acres of hills, rocks and brush so thick you couldn’t walk through it. Clearing it was a full time job in the evenings for endless months. Once the building site was cleared, we built our own house on the evenings and weekends that followed. The kids learned to frame and roof, to wire and drywall and caulk and insulate.
School still happened, but it was low on our list. As the months passed, I felt a rising sense of panic. Hubby encouraged me to relax, and when I finally did I realized something surprising: our children were smart.
School is about far more than academics, but even in that area I was laboring under false presuppositions. Just because the children weren’t sitting at a table with a pencil and paper for 6 hours per day, 180-200 days/year, I shouldn’t have assumed that they weren’t learning new things.
And so we went from a relatively traditional sort of homeschooling to a far more relaxed model. We still educate our children every day, but sometimes the children don’t realize they’re “doing school.”
This is our homeschooling method. You might call it the Real Life method.
- May 13 – Picking a curriculum, method or tactics that work for a large family (part 2).
- May 20 – Teaching little kids
- May 27 – Teaching big kids. what changes? what do they need that little ones don’t and where do you need to give more freedom. How do you make the transition.
- June 3 – Putting it together. How does it work?
- March 18 – Live-blog day, in which all 4 of us live-blog a real day in our home. Find out what we really do all day. It’s our own reality show, just for you. Who needs TV?
- March 25 – Outings with only little ones. Mom’s rules of order, and how notto become the poster family for birth control.
- April 1 – A baker’s dozen for managing the food budget: budgeting in the kitchen to feed a crowd.
- April 8 – Menu planning, how we plan (or don’t plan) to feed our hungry crewmates.
- April 15 – Cooking from Scratch. What we make from scratch and what we would like to make from scratch.
- April 22 – Cooking for a Crowd. The big linky! We shared our own recipes, and you shared yours.
- April 29 – Extreme Homeschooling, where I try to stir up trouble but you all are much nicer and more agreeable than some of the readers I had a few years ago.