Friday, October 10, 2014

A Day Homeschooling, Welcome to our Crazy Life

Homeschooling is becoming more popular for families who are able to choose to do so. We chose
to homeschool for several reasons:

1. Our children were not being challenged in their current public school.

  • Both our children were considered "ahead" of the rest of their classmates.
  • The teachers focused their time on those that were behind.
  • Both our children spent a large chunk of their time in school being bored, reading books they brought from home, or doing nothing.
  • My son began getting trouble for talking, and after a meeting with his teacher discovered he was just bored because he was always first done with all his work and the teacher couldn't give him anything else to do.
2. Flexible Scheduling

  • We show a lot. I was pulling the kids out a lot during spring and fall season at the end of the week to prep or leave for shows. 
  • The kids weren't getting the ride time they needed during the week since I spent the limited time after they were out of school teaching lessons until dark. 
  • Faith wanted to start training with my trainer, which required us going out there during the week when she should be in school.
3. Fear of being left behind

  • While both of our kids were considered ahead, it also meant they were often ignored.
  • The teachers spent the majority of their time, energy on the kids that were behind. 
  •  I was also helping them with hours of home work after a full 8 hour school day that they were not allowed to do during their "down time".
  • While my kids were getting straight A's, I also saw where they were struggling. My daughter read stories very literally and struggled to find hidden meanings and emotions. My son did wonderful at mental math but often could not show you his work. He also was a slow writer and would give only partial answers if not pressed to avoid excess writing. I saw these at home while helping them, but it was not being addressed at school. I felt as long as they continued to get good grades, it would not be...but would harm them later. 
4. Common Core and Standardized Testing

  • The teachers began focusing solely on teaching for the standardized tests given at the end of the year since their budget and jobs depended solely on how the students did on those tests.
  • Too much pressure was given on those tests, including it counting for 20% of the overall grade no matter how well they did on all of their work throughout the year.
  • The introduction of common core, especially with math, was a disaster in our school. It was poorly written and poorly explained. I often could not even understand what the questions were asking or how they got to the right answer. It eliminated me being able to help them in any way at home. 
A lot of other thoughts and discussions went into our decision to homeschool. I'll be the first to admit that the first year was downright terrifying.

"Am I going to make my children dumb?"
"Am I destrying there chances at getting into a good college?"
"Can I stand to be around them 24/7, ALL THE TIME, with no break?"
"Can I teach them, will they listen, will we kill each other?"

All these questions constantly ran through my head. I had to learn to be super organized, but I also had to learn to let some of my control freak things go. I had to find the balance in managing the house, the farm, and the school work. So for anyone curious or interested in a typical day/week of homeschooling for our it is.

  • Sunday - This is the day I make the menu for the week along with the grocery list. I also make a schedule of activities for the week that we have on our plate so I know what days we can probably do more school work and what days we need to be scheduled lighter. I also try to coordinate our menu based on when I can throw something in the crockpot in the morning and when Chuck will need to cook when he gets home, or when I will have time to actually cook in the evening. I do all our lesson plans this day.
Mon-Fri (typically)

  • 6:30am- Wake up, kids up, get dressed out of pajamas but in comfortable clothing
  • 7:00am- School starts with the "Breakfast Basket". We have breakfast and do something from our basket. Each week is themed. One week we did poetry, another All About Tennessee, last week was Knights. Sometimes the kids sketch while I read, other times they read out loud, sometimes we watch a video, other times we sit and discuss and ask questions. It only lasts 30 minutes and ends in prayer. It's a good warm up to our day without being intense.
  • 7:30am- School work begins. My daughter always starts with Math since it's her biggest assignment typically, but is easiest for her and she enjoys it. My son starts with small easy things like Spelling and Vocabulary. It gets him going and keeps him motivated through the harder and slower subjects to get through the day to finish up. While the kids are working, this is a good time for me to work on housework or cooking (or blogging!).
  • 10:00am- Several days a week this is when we need to head out. So we change into riding/farm clothes and pack any remaining work we have left.
  • 10:30-6 or 7pm- The kids are required to work on school work while managing their time helping with feeding, riding, farm chores, helping with lessons, etc.
  • 7:30pm- Home, dinner, finish any remaining school work.
  • 8/8:30pm - Kids time is their own until bedtime, I grade papers and work, marking things that need to be gone over and reviewed. 

Obviously this is pretty generalized and fluctuates based on what we have going on for the day/week,  but this is the general idea. While we are very flexible, I found we do have to have some schedule and routine otherwise it becomes chaotic. 

The kids typically get the weekend off of school work, however if something gets behind during the week we use these to finish and catch up. 

During yucky weather days when we can not ride/teach we work ahead on other days and do extra work. That sometimes earns them a whole extra day off during the week or several really short days of only a little work.

It's not easy. It's certainly not for everyone. For us, it works and we love it. 
Dwight after a week of school, farm work, riding, and a whole weekend of showing and early mornings!


  1. This was a very interesting post. I would have loved to have been homeschooled if it meant that I could also be heavily involved with horses on a daily basis.

    I am a science teacher in a public school. Your concerns about your children's experiences in public school make me very sad. I feel badly for your children and for their teachers. The teaching profession is being micromanaged on so many levels. The emphasis which the US puts on standardized testing is severely misplaced, in my opinion. Teachers must juggle numerous standards, large class sizes, prepare students for multiple standardized tests (which are not free of bias), and differentiate instruction. Teaching to the test is frowned upon, but also indirectly encouraged by the way schools are evaluated (which includes the consequences of the evaluation). Sometimes it feels like teachers are not free to teach.

    I am glad that you have found a routine that is working for you. I wish you much success.

    1. Thanks Val! The routine is definitely key...without it we would be a hot mess!

      I really felt bad for the teachers as well. They were all excellent teachers who were dealing with what they were dealt. We are in a poorer, rural area where many of the kids are behind before they even start school. My kids and I loved all of the teachers they had and the teachers were all very supportive of my kids and their horsey lives. I can't imagine the stress and pressure they must be under feeling stuck between a rock and hard place most of the time.

      Thank you for being a teacher, it is probably not said nearly enough!