4 Moms 35 Kids: homeschooling in real life

This is part 9 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:

I rambled on last week about our homeschooling method which I dubbed the real life method, and how we arrived where we are now.  This week I’d like to just give a few examples of how this works out in real life – our life.

On a “normal” day (a rare thing in our house!), we start our day in a rather typical homeschooler way: wake up, clean up, eat, and sit down to do school.  The specifics have varied over the years and continue to change, but right now it usually consists of the following:

Bible is first (read silently, then write a summary of several chapters), followed by math (Saxon and Dive for the older ones, Spectrum workbooks for the younger ones).  Then non-fiction reading from our family library, either assigned or chosen & approved (we’re working on a reading list for the older ones to simplify the choices and assignments),  and finally writing in various forms: copywork, summaries of non-fiction reading, blogging, letter-writing, writing/research assignments, etc.  These, of course, often provide the material for an impromptu lesson in phonics, spelling, grammar, style, Latin or Greek roots found in English words, etc.

We try to vary the reading and writing assignments to cover important topics, and we always have other educational projects going on as well.  This week the family has started a new fitness program, the kids are taking part in Vision Forum’s online European tour and several members of our family will be staffing the Vision Forum book table at the San Antonio homeschool conference.  In the past, we have edited and updated a book for publishing (Princess Adelina), and we’re currently (er – make that occasionally) working on 2 e-books, plus a few other projects that we’re very excited about.

Ongoing discussions make up a big part of our family culture – these include but are not limited to politics and current events, economics, news articles, magazines, science, theology, history, law and government, music & entertainment, and other forms of media.

We always have several entrepreneurial endeavors going on, and these are generally family projects.  Some of the children have their own entrepreneurial aspirations in addition to the family projects:  One of our daughters recently opened an Etsy shop for her unique fabric rings, and also does graphic design.  Last year she designed her own modest swimsuit pattern which she hopes to sell soon.   She is not the only seamstress in the house – there always seem to be multiple sewing projects in the works.

Several of the girls often have items for sale on our For Sale page, and one posted earlier this week about her newest and most exciting investment to date.  Yet another has taken an interest in photography.

Even household chores are an important part of education: taking care of our various pets requires a working knowledge of animals and their needs and habits.  Cooking requires math skills and lends itself very well to a wide variety of chemistry lessons.  Stain treatment and general laundering practices could generate discussions about the nature and source of chemicals, solvents, etc.

Housework need not be looked upon as mindless drudgery.  Like everything in life, it is another opportunity to glorify God and to see His glory shine forth in His creation.

Each of these activities presents various needs and educational opportunities, from math and internet marketing to photography and web design.  Each of these activities is an integral part of our plan for home education.

All of our children are works in progress, but as our older girls grow and mature each is displaying talents and gaining knowledge and expertise in areas that, we hope, will enable her to better glorify the Lord and serve as a helper to her future husband.

Upcoming topics:

  • 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?

Past topics:

  • 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.
  • May 6 – Picking a curriculum, method or tactics that work for a large family (part 1).


  1. melanie says:

    I’ve been thinking about this since you posted and just now getting around to asking my question…
    At approximately what age do you have them start writing a summary of the Bible passages? We read OT and NT passages aloud every day, but lately I have discovered that my 11y.o. son has a wandering mind…. He may appear to be listening, but yet thinking about WWII or how to build a battering ram out of Knex, who knows?
    I have been frustrated, but not had any ideas of how to make sure that he is absorbing the Word. I like the idea of summarizing, but a chapter seems really really long for him. For example, we’ve been reading Paul’s letters recently and they have some pretty deep stuff.
    Any ideas? Do you choose specific passages for them to work on? Do they ever groan or grumble at the assignment?

    • Melanie,
      Mine were very overwhelmed at first and didn’t know where to start, but we just encouraged them to do their best and reminded them that new things are often hard. If it’s really a problem, you might want to start by letting them verbally summarize just a few verses at a time as you read.
      One technique I’ve found very helpful with wandering minds is to pause during the reading at unexpected points and ask, “What was the last thing I said?” or more specific questions like, “What did Paul just say to beware of?” This may or may not help with overall comprehension, but done regularly it does help keep your listeners ready to respond.

  2. I love your recommendations. You are an inspiration for all homeschooling mamas.

  3. I like the relaxed approach to schooling. : )

  4. Yay! Sounds wonderful! Again, this is how we plan on doing things with our kids as soon as they get a little older! I look forward to it!

  5. Excuse me…I meant…”The Deputy Headmistress from the Common Room”.

  6. I am really enjoying this series, especially this post. Next year our oldest will be in 1st grade and I am trying to figure out which method and curriculum we’ll use. It’s very helpful to see what is working for other families and to see how they integrate schooling into their daily lives.

    I love what you said about housework so much that I wrote it down in my journal so that I can be reminded of that truth on the days when I’m feeling like it’s drudgery. : )

  7. This is very helpful and encouraging. It is heartening because I struggle with self-doubt. This is the style I find us adopting and my thinking as to why. Thank you for letting yourself be transparent. My children have and will continue to benefit from your words and experience.

    I read the Common Room blog today. It was SO helpful. We just started our own study of the War Between the States. She answered precisely every question I was having as to how I wanted to do this. Even to the music and poetry aspect. It would be astonishing if it wasn’t so clear that God has His hand in this 4 Moms 35 Kids project. I don’t know how to leave Connie from the Common Room a comment. Could you pass this on? Her practical wisdom and experience has been an answer to prayer on many occasions.

    Keep on bloggin’ and I’ll keep on readin’. I’m learnin’ a lot.

  8. this has nothing to do with this post but I would love to hear how you all budget and spend on groceries.

  9. Your day sounds very much like ours. But you and the Botkin family are convicting me to add more writing into our day and I like the idea of non-fiction reading too. May I ask how your daughter learned to do computer graphics? I’d like my almost 10 year old son to start learning (and stop thinking of the computer as a video game machine.) but I don’t know where to start.


  1. […] the 4 Moms are posting again about picking a curriculum.  Be sure to check out what KimC, Connie and the Deputy Headmistress have to […]

Don't just think it: say it!

%d bloggers like this: