Monday, April 24, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Homeschooling Family :: The Prescott Family

:: Tell us a little about your family, how long you have been homeschooling and the ages of your children.

We are a family of 5.  I am a full time mom and home educator and my husband works full time out of the home.  My oldest is a boy age 8,  I have a 6 year old daughter, and a 4 year old son.  We are almost done with our 4th year of homeschooling.  My oldest son attended 3 months of public school pre-kindergarten in California.  He just missed the cut off for kindergarten and they provided a pre-kindergarten program for the kids who would be turning 5 before December of that year.  It was not a good fit for him.   He was not happy and so I was not happy.  He has some special needs that weren't being addressed and, although academically he was advanced beyond his peers, he was struggling socially and couldn't possibly meet the classroom social expectations.  So, I decided to pull him out.  We haven't looked back.

:: Do you use a particular method?  Share with us a few of your favorite curriculum.

I am using the Starfall kindergarten program with my 4 year old.  He was getting jealous of everyone doing school and had already mastered basic letter and letter sound identification and even started reading simple 3 letter words after doing Montessori type activities the previous year.  I had used this curriculum with my older 2 when they did kindergarten.  I can't say enough about the program.  It is really fun and interactive.  It uses a lot of games to teach, which is engaging for little people.  Their books are cute.  The on-line part is really entertaining.  It incorporates a lot of classic children's literature which I appreciate.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

For my older 2 we follow a classical approach, using many of the recommendations outlined in Susan Wise-Bauer's "The Well Trained Mind."  The classical idea that readiness for learning happens in 3 main stages of development really makes sense to me.  I also like the idea of providing my children with exposure to the wide range of literature, facts and ideas that make up the basis of our western culture.  My favorite part of our curriculum is the use of Susan Wise-Bauer's "Story of the World" history books and activity books.  The books are laid out in chronological order.  You study what is happening in each part of the world during the same time in history before moving onto the next time in history.  It just makes so much more sense to see how everything is connected.  The presentation is simple, engaging, and even I am learning so much.  And, the activity books have some really wonderful hands on activities to supplement and make history come alive.

:: Are you involved in a co-op, and/or do you participate in homeschool groups?

We are members of the Fox Valley Homeschoolers meetup group and Naperville Area Homeschoolers Facebook group.  The first group has over 100 homeschool families as members.  Families are encouraged to post and/or host activities that they would like others to attend.  We attend open gym time, nature hikes, holiday events, boys clubs, girl clubs, park days, science classes, holiday choirs, music classes, etc. through this group.  The second is hosted by the fabulous Channon Douglas who, with seeming ease and flair, hosts hikes, teen events, ice skating, bowling, park days, craft classes, girl activities, etc.  Both have been invaluable resources to us!!

In addition to these, we participate in an art class every week w/ another homeschool family. We take turns hosting the class in our home and then just have time to socialize after.  This has been a wonderful blessing and helped us develop some deeper friendships.  

We also make use of the many free library programs available.  Naperville library hosts a twice monthly stem class in the afternoons that the kids love.  Bollingbrook library hosts a monthly social studies program for elementary age homeschoolers.  It is really well done and a lot of fun.  They are wonderful programs.  And, they are free!!

We also rely on the parks and recreation programs.  All three of my kids take karate weekly and my daughter takes ballet.

We don't currently participate in a formal co-op, although I have been contemplating it for next year.  I don't necessarily want to be tied down to something for so many hours each week, so, I am not sure...  But, I like the idea of developing new friendships from consistent interaction.

:: Do you follow a strict schedule, predictable rhythm, or do you work your lessons around that day's activities?

We follow a fairly strict schedule every day for my older 2.  We do language arts and math daily, alternate history and science, and fit in typing and Latin.  We tend to do a big chunk of work in the morning and then take a long break before finishing up our day.  We try to get all our work scheduled done each day, but will stop to attend an activity and then resume our studies when we get home.  The car is often our mobile classroom as we listen to our history lesson on CD or watch our Latin lesson on DVD as we are driving to and from activities.

I am more flexible with my 4 year old.  We typically do about an hour 1/2 of study which includes puzzles, games, calendar, reading practice, a short hands on math lesson, beginning handwriting, etc. He is still little though,  so I try to make it exciting and don't push him if he doesn't seem up to it that day.

:: How long does it take you to do school everyday?

We tend to spend 4 - 5 hours a day on school.  The length of a day depends on how complicated the work is, if we are learning something new, how the kids are picking it up, and how focused everyone is that day.  Although, focus seems to be the biggest factor.

:: What advice would you give to other homeschooling families?

Like Dory says, "Just keep swimming."  Honestly, you are going to have great days and terrible, no good, very bad days.  But, if you just keep going, trying to move forward with love and patience, and give yourself a time out every once in a while when it feels like to much, it will all be fine and more often great.  Also, be flexible.  This is one I struggle with.  I get an idea in my head of how it should be and what is best and sometimes it just doesn't work.  You may have to change or modify curriculum and manage your own expectations.  One example for us is math.  We use the Saxon Math program.  It is a very thorough program that moves at a good pace for us, but it includes a lot of drilling worksheets.  The review was tedious and I was getting a lot of resistance.  So, I dropped the worksheets and started doing math review games instead.  It was a lot more fun.  It resolved conflict.  It made everyone so much happier.  But it took me much longer to make the change than it should have I am sorry to admit. 

Thank you so much Rachel for taking the time to share a bit about your homeschooling day with us!


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