Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Homeschooling Family, Summer Edition :: The Ruland Family

:: Tell us a little about yourself and your family, as well as how long you have been homeschooling.

I am married to my high school sweetheart and best friend.  We have been married for 15 years and best friends for over well, let’s just not go there because that makes me feel really old.  We have 4 children.  They are 14, 10, 8, and 5.  Our two oldest are boys, then a girl, and our youngest is a boy.  We started homeschooling after my oldest completed 3rd grade.  My degree is in Early Childhood, so I had always wanted to teach our children.  My husband is also in education, so it just seemed like a great fit.  We have homeschooled the others from the beginning.  Our oldest went back to public school last year as an 8th grader and thrived.  He will be continuing in high school at the public school.

:: Do you take the Summer off from homeschooling, or do you continue year round?  If you continue, do you do things any differently? 

I would classify us as year round schoolers, because we learn all the time.  We do more bookwork type learning during the school year, but anytime we are home we are learning.  We try to do a lot of road trips and always use those as education too.  We create maps, learn about the states we are traveling through, do any junior ranger programs available, and learn about what we see on our trips.  

During the summer, we focus mainly on reading, math, and writing when we are at home.  Our other subjects are integrated into our travel and excursions.

We also participate in the Wesley 4-H Hustlers which provides HUGE learning opportunities.  This particular club is the 2nd oldest in the state of Illinois.  During the spring and summer is when our kids are most active in their project areas.  The kids learn about veterinary science, woodworking, robotics, public speaking, journalism, poultry, and whatever other projects interest them.  That is the awesome thing about 4-H is that kids get to choose their interests.  4-H curriculum is AMAZING and very comprehensive.  It is a GREAT supplement to our homeschool.   

:: What are some of your favorite Summer activities to do with your children?

My favorite summer activities are mostly our family vacations and camping.  We love to explore together as a family.  When my oldest graduated 8th grade this year, we told him we were proud of him, but that we weren’t hosting a party.  We asked him what he would like to do, and he said he wanted to hike off trail in the Badlands National Park.  So we hooked up our 1975 airstream Memorial Day weekend and drove out there.  We spent two days exploring and hiking off trail.  All of the kids had a ball.  They also completed the Badlands Junior Ranger Program as well as Buffalo Gap National Grasslands Junior Ranger Program.  We learned about all the animals that we saw and had a very memorable time.  

:: Do you have a favorite Chicagoland spot for Summer fun?

We like to check out the zoo.  Otherwise, we enjoy hanging out with friends and hiking at Matthiessen State Park and Starved Rock State Park.  We are hoping to attend a Chicago Fire game this summer as all four of our children love soccer.  Our favorite is camping and traveling.  We are on the move learning and experiencing most of the summer.  

:: Do you have a special way of storing and organizing your homeschool at the end of the year? 

I keep tidbits of the kids projects from throughout the year.  I have a container for some of their projects that are labels for the year.   I keep their writing journals that are dated as well as each of their math notebooks.  We practice minimalism as much as possible, so I try to only keep what is necessary as well as keepsakes that the kids would enjoy.  

:: As you reflect on the past school year what is something that you felt was a success, and what was something that you would like to change for the coming year.

Upon reflection, I have realized that I like the way we homeschool.  Learning isn’t all worksheets and books, it is learning through doing.  It is participating in 4-H and learning about their project areas.  It is reading books about topics that interest them.  We definitely do our fair share of book learning, but we also use life experiences to focus our learning as well.  I definitely want to remember to live in the moment with our kids.  Life is flying by at an unbelievable pace and I love watching our kids grow and learn.  Each of them has their own strengths and unique talents.  I want to remember to open my eyes to all of that and not miss a thing.  

Thank you for visiting with us Amber!


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