I got a lot of blank stares when I told people we were going to start homeschooling this year…
I know they were all thinking, “How on earth is she going to do that when she has a homestead, a blog, an essential oil business, and baby #3 on the way?”
Trust me, I kinda thought the same thing…
Because I’m a homeschool graduate myself, many folks thought homeschooling would be an obvious choice for our family.
I actually agonized over it for months.
Although I had always *planned* to homeschool my kids, when I found myself staring down the barrel of our first year of Kindergarten, I was petrified.
Could I REALLY do this?
Maybe I’m just too busy?
Could I give my daughter what she REALLY needed by keeping her at home?
But after many long, back-and-forth conversations with my husband, we decided to go for it. And while I’m far from an expert homeschooler at this point (let’s see… we’ve been doing school for about two months now…whoop whoop…) I am so, so thankful we chose to take the homeschooling plunge. I know with every fiber of my being it was the right choice for us. Here’s how we came to the decision to homeschool here at The Prairie Homestead—>
Note: I realize the topic of homeschool vs. public school can open up a lot of debate. The purpose of this post is meant in no way to condemn or criticize anyone who chooses to send their child to public school. I wholeheartedly believe homeschooling is NOT for everyone, and each family must weight the pros and cons and decide what is right for them.
Why We Chose Homeschooling
In a nutshell? Because I can’t imagine a better classroom than a homestead.
The cycles of nature…
Life and death…
The rewards of hard work…
The chance to work alongside Mom and Dad and ask questions (lots and lots of questions…)
The flexibility to explore topics that interest you…
The ability to learn science and math (and everything else!) in a real-world environment…
An intimate connection and understanding of the food you eat…
And dirt… Lots and lots of dirt.
Does it really get any better than that?
I never thought much about it before, but as I’ve watched Prairie Girl and Prairie Boy grow, I’ve been astounded at the sheer power of play. I am completely and utterly convinced kids are like puppies: they need lots of unbridled time to run, and play, and explore. Otherwise, you end up dealing with a lot of nervous energy and
chewing, er, hyper behavior. I’ve watched our homestead turn into a magical playground for the Prairie Kids as they take advantage of every square inch of the property. As I watch them play outside for hours on end, it makes my heart full and completely confirms how much I love this lifestyle.
The toys in their rooms collected dust this summer as they spent countless hours exploring the homestead together. They’d meander down to the chicken coop to look for eggs, then mosey over to the dirt pile to do some digging, then run up to the swing set to cool off, then trample over to the garden to check for ripe tomatoes.
By the end of each day, they were tired, extremely dirty, and incredibly satisfied.
I watched in amazement as my five year old learned plant identification, animal husbandry, food production, weather patterns, and simple math skills, all without cracking open a single book or me having to drill her with facts.
That’s when I knew I wasn’t ready to plunge her into a classroom environment for eight hours a day, five days a week. I would be taking her out of her hands-on learning paradise so she could learn about farm animals and plants from a book. Hmmm…
My husband and I are also extremely passionate about teaching our kids the entrepreneur lifestyle. As someone who was previously indoctrinated the only way to make a living was to work for someone else, one of the biggest realizations I’ve ever had came when I realized we could put our natural skills and talents to work, be our own boss, and build OUR dreams– not someone else’s. What better way to teach our kids to think outside the box and break out of the industrialized mindset than to work alongside us in our family businesses?
So I finally had my answer– it became clear we would homeschool.
And away we went… *Gulp*
My Homeschooling Style?
If I had to describe my homeschooling “style” in two words, it would be “laid back.”
There are SO MANY different methods, schools of thought, and curriculums out there it will make your brain hurt. Just the number of homeschooling blogs alone is enough to make you go cross-eyed… I started out trying to “research” online a bit, but quickly realized trying to absorb everyone’s ideas at once wasn’t going to work for me.
I wholeheartedly admire the moms who rigorously map out their school plans each week with graph paper, spreadsheets, rulers, and highlighters.
But that’s totally not my style… At least not right now.
Although I’m pretty particular about my time management (I have to be, considering how many balls I have in the air at any given time…), I don’t do well with super-rigid schedules. Our life requires a good amount of fluidity and flexiblity, so I quickly tossed the highlighters and spreadsheets and decided to go with what would mesh with our life.
Because of all the different pieces of life I juggle, my days have to stay somewhat structured, but I do “structured” in my own way. I prefer to schedule out chunks of time, rather than being a stickler about an exact time on the clock.
My own homeschool experience was very traditional. We started each day at 8am sharp, and continued until all the day’s assignments were done. And you know what? It worked well and I credit it with teaching me how to stick with something until it’s completed and hold myself to a task without getting distracted.
But I’ve come to realize there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and you don’t have to model your homeschool after a public school environment. I’ve done a good amount of reading on the unshchooling method, and while I like some of its tenants, I wanted something in the middle– a hybrid between unschooling and a more traditional format…. Something with enough structure to reinforce the lessons we want to teach our kids about discipline and responsibility, but with enough wiggle room to foster creativity, play-based learning, and project-based learning.
What Homeschool Looks Like for Us Right Now
It’s fluid and relaxed, and it’s working well for us at the moment.
After we eat breakfast (usually something fast like a puffed pancake or oatmeal), and the kids do their chores (this includes letting the chickens out and taking the scrap bucket outside), I make myself something hot to drink and we settle down on the couch.
As soon as our farmhouse remodel project is complete, we’ll have a designated school area. Nothing too fancy, just a table and a cabinet for supplies, but for now, the couch it is. So yeah, right now my schooling stuff is crammed into a corner of our bedroom and it’s driving me craaaaazzzzy… Plus, trying to have a two year old do “art” projects on the couch or living room floor is slightly difficult, to say the least. But this craziness shall soon pass…
I bring down a toy (usually blocks or legos) to occupy Prairie Boy if he’s not outside helping Daddy work on the house, and Prairie Girl and I start with her reading lessons first.
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We’re using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and it seems to be working well so far. Prairie Girl already had a decent handle on letter sounds before we even started this year, and this book is doing a wonderfully unintimidating job of showing her how to blend them into words. She’s starting to really recognize words on signs or in other books, and comes to me all day long announcing her latest revelation of what word starts with what letter.
Several times per week, we’ll add in a few pages in the Kumon Rhyming book. I discovered the Kumon books when Prairie Girl was in Preschool, and I love them. I noticed she was having a hard time grasping the rhyming concepts in the 100 Easy Lessons book, so decided to add this one in for a little added support.
After that, we jump over to math. We’re using the Kumon Simple Addition and Telling Time workbooks right now. Usually just a couple pages in each. They aren’t anything fancy, but I’ve seen her penmanship improve, as well as her math skills, as we’ve worked through them.
Depending on the day, sometimes I’ll pull out our Counting to 100 poster and we’ll go through counting by ones and tens, or we’ll play with the Unifix cubes for a hands-on approach to simple addition, subtraction, and estimation. Prairie Boy usually joins us if there are Unifix cubes involved. He’ll build towers or sort them into piles by color. Their favorite project so far has been guessing how many cubes it would take to stretch the length of my foot. It was a lot, which they thought was hilarious. (I have big feet.)
And then we shut the books, and the real learning begins.
This is the part of the day where I really don’t get hung up on structure. Sometimes we’ll sit on the couch and read a pile of library books. Sometimes we’ll do a craft project (holy moly– I’m convinced Pinterest has every craft idea known to man…). Sometimes we’ll watch a video related to the latest serious of questions Prairie Girl has been asking. Today she was asking how paper is made, so we found a couple short videos on YouTube, which she watched with complete fascination. Her next request is to check out some library books on what causes hiccups and sneezing, so I have that on my list.
We did a mini weather unit the first month of school, since she was asking non-stop questions about rain, snow, thunder, and clouds. I checked out dozens of age-appropriate library books about weather, and we supplemented them with short YouTube videos. Wyoming’s weather changes frequently, which gave us plenty of real-life experience in analyzing clouds, wind, fog, and rain. We added in some crafts (rainbow paper chains, clouds made from cotton balls, and swirly wind-catchers) and experiments in the kitchen talking about solids, liquids, and gases.
As the rest of our day progresses, the learning continues.
They learn about tools and measuring as they “help” Daddy work on our new house.
They learn about fractions as they help me measure ingredients for supper.
They learn about animal husbandry as they care for the chickens, cows, cats, and goats.
But I have to say, my favorite outdoor classroom is, by far, the garden. The learning opportunities there are so rich. They’ve learned about food production, the life cycle of plants, the importance of organic matter in the soil, and so much more, all with their own hands. Even when I’m in a hurry, I try to make a point of stopping to explore and encourage the wonder in their eyes as they hold a squirmy worm in their palms, taste a dirt-covered carrot, count the legs on a roly poly bug, or ask which plants or leaves are edible.
And that’s pretty much what homeschooling looks like for us right now. It’s a little unorthodox, but it works, and Prairie Girl is trucking right along on all the “proper” Kindergarten milestones.
I fully expect the structure of our school days to morph heavily as the years progress, but for now, we are having a blast. And the best part? They love to learn. Except to them, it’s not “learning” it’s just life. And I am starting to think that’s exactly the way it should be. 🙂
I feel like we are kindred spirits…homeschooling provides such wonderful opportunities to learn. My husband is a home-school graduate, and I am a public school graduate. We also weighed the pros/cons and found homeschooling fits our life-style, but yes…it’s not for everyone!
My littles love the pictures of your kiddos (as do I!!!), and my son wishes he could meet them and play on your big farm (our farm is pretty tiny in comparison). They also want your puppy, lol! 😉
Blessings to your family, and we’re looking forward to meeting your new Prairie Baby! Thanks for inviting all of us “readers” into your life, it’s a beautiful one!
Jill Winger says
Thanks for your kind words Jess– it’s definitely not for everyone, but so rewarding, huh?
Jill, thank you so much for this post. You have no idea how encouraging it has been for me. I have a little boy who is 1 1/2 years old and another one on the way. Both my husband and I were homeschooled and I can hardly wait to give my children the kind of experience you just described. I am just wondering though, do you have any suggestions for staring that learning process with my son? He is so impatient to learn, and while I try to incorporate him in projects that I’m doing around the homestead, he is rather limited with his current skill set. And I’m beginning to feel at a little loss for ideas to keep his hands and mind busy as the weather has turned cold and rainy. He isn’t one to thrive on toys, he’d much prefer to play with ‘real’ things like dishes and Daddy’s tools. And it really want to capitalize on that and infuse in him a love of learning and practical life. Any suggestions?
Check out Justin Rhode’s Anundant Permaculture Vlog on YouTube to see how they encourage their youngest-Mr Brown- to help with farm chor Es!
It’s my opinion that the value of something should not be placed on whether or not it’s orthodox but whether or not it’s working well. Lets be honest: not everything that is orthodox is so great, or even workable for everyone. How you are teaching your children is very commendable and is exactly how I want to teach my children when that time comes! After I graduated from a private high school I found myself wishing I had been homeschooled. Oh well…
Thanks for this inspiring post. We are intending on home educating but I frequently have attacks of “how will I have the time to give them all they need?!” and such worries! And I don’t have a homestead (but would like one!!)
I really appreciate what you’ve shared here and the insight into the kind of shape your days take, and how you facilitate learning for your kids. Of course the world is our classroom, I know that – but just need the odd post like this to remind me!
Blessings for your family’s homeschool journey 🙂
Jill Winger says
I’m glad the post was an encouragement to you Mo– you can do it! 🙂
In reading your post , you may find support in reading about unschooling. It’s like freeform life/learning support, as opposed to recreating school at home. I was homeschooled and enjoyed it, but unschooling incorporates a mindset that you may enjoy. It’s basically trusting that children will learn what they need as it comes up, with encouragement and active support from the parent. It is less about curriculum or core subjects. Anyway, it might interest you to read about it if you haven’t already. There may be support there for your style of homeschool.
Catherine Salazar says
We too chose homeschooling. We started as an off and on venture when our older three were younger…then we moved from city life to country life and although started the younger then 4 kiddos in the local school system, it didn’t take long to know the best classroom was at home. We used to spend 100’s of $$$ on curriculum. We now provide books shelves full of quality books on science, history, maps…we have encyclopedias and dictionaries and tons of interesting reads…we do assign math everyday, but everything else if free range..read and learn as you go. Life on a farm offers its own lessons and I find my kids are learning more then the classroom could teach. It is amazing what sparks a full blown lesson around here!…with 8 children, 5 still at home, Im often called crazy…my reply..You bet I’m crazy, couldn’t do this job otherwise!!!
Jill Winger says
Laura Martinsen says
I heard children who are home skilled oftrn do better on tests so home schooling could be great.
Katie M says
I would love to homeschool but I’m a little nervous about how it would work on the farm. I have a couple years yet, but I have this fear that my kids will not be socialized (pardon that terrible word, but it’s true that I’m worried about my kids learning to socialize). Do you do anything where your kids get to play with other kids or do extracurriculars or anything? Or do you not see that as very important? I hope this doesn’t cause any trouble but I’m very curious about your viewpoint on this.
We homeschool, and as for socialization, my kids are active in 4H. I find 4H and homeschooling to be wonderful companions. Also, we participate in a homeschool co-op. Yes, we have to drive 35 miles to get there, but it is only about 4 weeks in the fall, and another 4 in the spring. We also participate in Girl Scouts, and go on field trips. My kids don’t have any trouble finding someone to talk to. To me, being in a classroom with the same number of kids your age for 8 hours a day isn’t true socialization. My kids interact with different kids at different activities and have to have a true grasp on how to communicate and get along with a variety of people.
Jill Winger says
Agree 100% Amber! I cannot WAIT for Prairie Girl to be old enough to start 4-H! I was heavily involved in 4-H in high school, and it brought me so many rich opportunities. 🙂
Amber Beyers says
We have a Cloverbuds group in our area, so kids who are ages 5-8 can participate in 4H activities. I would bet she is old enough to join.
Yep. Cloverbuds here too.
Jill Winger says
No, giving kids opportunities outside the home/homestead is extremely important. However, I see a lot of prospective homeschoolers getting super nervous about this aspect, and it’s not as big of a deal as many folks think. 🙂
As a homeschool graduate myself, the opportunities I had outside the home were AMPLE. I was heavily involved in 4-H, did music lessons, tons of volunteering, and was able to pursue my unique passions and dreams. I even built my first blog (and taught myself to code it by hand!) when I was 15. It wasn’t a part of my curriculum, I was just interested in it and my mom honored that desire and gave me the time to do so. Who would have thought I’d end up revising blogging 10+ years later and it’d end up being my full time job?! 🙂
Honestly? I attribute the free time I had b/c of my homeschool schedule and the extra “socialization” activities I was able to participate in as a result as a huge factor in my success as a blogger and business woman. 🙂
There are many, many opportunities available to homeschooled kids– you don’t have to look far to takee advantage of them. 4-H/FFA, co-ops, homeschool groups, field trips, church activities, sports, the sky’s the limit!
Laura Martinsen says
I should have read through the comments before making mine below – of course being homeschooled you know about outside opportunities! Hope I added to the testimonial of how wonderful the experience of homeschooling is – I would choose that option again in a heartbeat!
Laura Martinsen says
This was the first fear that all our critics (including my son’s grandparents) brought up when we switched from public school to homeschool in 5th grade. I had been a sub at my son’s elementary school and saw kids kept in from what 20 minute recess they did have to be disciplined or make up work and “silent lunch” put into effect when the cafeteria monitor had had enough noise ( just as kids were often shushed in class). If you select an activity like scouts or 4H that suits your child there will be no problem with socialization. Go for it!
My husband was homeschooled and I was public schooled. I have to say my husband and his 7 siblings were more acclimated to conversing with adults and more mature than I was it any if my fellow public schoolers. Home school allows the children to interact with adults and children if all ages rather than just thier peers.
We have been homeschooling 7-8 years now. My children are so social its nuts. I find in town they interact with cashiers and waiters well and can deal with a grocery store environment. When I’m in town on a weekend it seems like most children just are not use to a public enviroment and have troubles adjusting. It’s hard for public schoolers to adjust to the real world in general just because they have little experience with it and are highly regulated in the public school system. Lots of dictation and little creativity or self regulation. Just my observations coming from the public school realm myself.
I agree homesteads are great classrooms! Pope Pius XII said that “the farm is the ideal nursery for the family.” I think all of your examples of learning on the farm are excellent reasons why Pope Pius XII said this! It also gives us opportunities to instill virtues in our children rather than them learning from peers or teachers who may not share our values.
Homeschooling has its trials but so does everything in life, and after, that is worth working for! “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread all the days of thy life.” With Gods grace we can do what is best for our children. Thanks for the good post! Love seeing how another homesteader manages school with a farm.
Gramma D says
I think that real life involves knowing how to interact with those older and younger than yourself. If you limit “socializing” to only those your age, as in a classroom you are going to miss out. I have seen homeschooled children much better adjusted and more at ease with people than those who have spent 12 years in the regular system. And the opposite. It depends on personality and situation.
We put three children through the regular system and homeschooled two. Both work, although I prefer HS as I loved teaching the kids things. Some of our grandchildren are being HS some are not. It’s what you can do with what you’ve got.
I think the biggest fear of many prospective parents considering homeschooling is the myth of socialization. 4H, sports, church and volunteering are all options for homeschoolers. I would also add that the children of your friends that are not homeschooled as well as public or private school students are sources of friendship. In the end you are raising your child to be an educated adult, so don’t worry too much and give yourself a big break. We homeschool and are currently on a road trip in which our teen will probably be in contact with mostly adults. He just adjusted the air pressure in the tires on the motor home at our last stop. He interacts with most adults in ways that lead people to think he’s much older than 15. He is not subject to the peer pressures to conform in dress and hair or especially attitude. We’ve had public school experiences with the older kids and the stories of teen drama they shared with us were certainly not discounted when we made our decision. Please do not worry about “socialization “.
Besides wonderful 4H programs and girl/boy scouts, there’s also church and sports,(if your not too busy on a farm, like myself currently); also homeschool co-ops. We love ours! We do field trips every week and they’re a great resource for support or materials. Also, some churches, like mine have co-op groups for homeschoolers. No shortage of conversing with others or active engagements for our children!
Plus, we live close enough to our public elementary and high schools that we can go to the school after school hrs and meet parents/children. We have a local community center that we are members of as well, where they can participate in extra activities as well as meet lots of other children. Our local zoo,history museum,science center,art museums and libraries also have homeschool programs and other programs as well!
The options are endless!
Best wishes and many blessings to all those who choose to do whichever works well for their family.
Many blessings to the Prairie Homestead as well and thank you for sharing your thoughts,ideas and experiences! Mine are very similar!
R Arkie says
I homeschooled our 4 kids born within 6 yrs of each other, through high school. They all started jr college early. I got them enrolled with local 4H programs: Art, photography, sewing, animals- sheep, horse, raised some goats, sheep and chickens, got them involved with local church group age appropriate activities. Started a small 4-5 family group of like minded parents and got together monthly for the children to give their oral reports to and show off their projects. Music lessons also! The ideas are endless and just fall into place…YOU CAN DO IT, it becomes a way of life.
I couldn’t agree with you more. We have used public school until we hit high school and then took the home school plunge. Then we used an online public school. In some ways it worked and in some ways it didn’t. It didn’t give my kids the opportunity to enjoy learning since everything they learned was geared around state testing. This year we pulled our son out of the program and are doing our own thing. We have a program for math, English, and government but he chose other things. He loves the art lesson we find on YouTube. We’re out learning about plants, life cycles and his favorite, black smith work. I wish we had done this sooner. My son is 15 and I’ve never seen him enjoy school as much as he has the past 2 months.
Jill Winger says
I love that he is loving learning now!
carrie t says
Joel Salatin’s book on Family Farming had a good passage in the difference between being social and socialization. My daughter is 4 and greets anyone and everyone who comes to our place and is far more social than many other children we meet. Keeping her out of pre-school means she is healthier and less influenced by other people’s badly behaved children!
Jill Winger says
I need to get that book! And yes, I agree wholeheartedly about the difference between “being social” and “socialization.”
Lady Lee says
Our homeschool looks pretty much the same as yours. We are usually done with all the books in 45min to 1 hour and the rest of the day is spent outside unless we have to go run errands or we have a special activity to go to.
I love this lifestyle!
I haven’t seen you write anything about homeschooling before, but when I saw your little girl, I just KNEW you would do it!! It just totally seems to fit your wonderful lifestyle. I love your pictures and ideas already, and they sure make me miss the days when mine were young. We also had home education, and just graduated the last of our six children. No regrets.
Laura Martinsen says
Your style and reasoning closely match those I used to homeschool my son, who is now in college. As your kids get older, check your library for local co-ops and programs – for instance we thought our son would miss out on band but one mom started a music program and by the time my son had played trumpet with her program 3 years there were over 200 homeschool families involved! He also became an Eagle Scout with a great group of guys that are still fast friends. Your homestead would be a great place to share with any groups your kids are in too! Thanks for a great article – keeping the faith in a true spirit of whole learning!
Kayla Albrecht says
Oh Jill, enjoy your littles! To hear you speak and see your farm life makes me miss having littles around so much!! You won’t regret a moment of the time you are investing in your kiddos, enjoy every minute of it!
I thought I’d share an idea to those that are looking for “socilization” we are involved in American Heritage Girls, which is a christian focus on scouting. It provides wonderful opportunities for outdoor adventures, serving others, growing in your faith, and just plain ole’ fun! There are troops all over the nation but if there isn’t one close by it’s not hard to start a troop!! And for boys there is Trail Life USA.
Hi Jill! Welcome to homeschooling! I’ve been homeschooling for 8 years now with my two boys). We started out laid back like that too. Kindergarten and first grade were easy. Then we started in higher elementary/lower middle school levels and things got really bogged down. =( Although they still loved learning, there was just too much to do; both kids had 11 or more subjects (math, English, spelling, vocabulary, reading, history, Bible, science, handwriting, piano, phonics -for the younger one, Spanish and keyboarding – for the older one).
This year I’ve taken a step back and going back to laid back. We are getting back to Math, English (writing), reading, one elective and piano. Nothing else. I’ve learned to do spelling and vocabulary incorporated into the reading and writing. If they don’t know a word, they look it up. Then we try to use it in the next few days.
Science and History will be thoroughly covered when they get in high school in the Ron Paul Curriculum. I’ve found all the lower grades just simply do an overview that they really don’t understand yet anyway. Every now and then we throw in some map fun, usually when we drive to do errands or on road trips. They are my navigators instead of the GPS.
Life is so much better now. Instead of doing school for 8+ hours a day stuck in the schoolroom, we get back outside like we used to. They are learning more about permaculture (food forests, swales, companion gardening, etc.) and being outside. They have construction projects they are working on (we are helping them build tiny houses!) We get to cook dinner together!
Good luck with your homeschooling adventure and my heartfelt hope is that you keep the course and stay laid back. It’s the only way to go!
Glenda Smith says
We homeschooled our last three kids K=12….they got a MUCH better education at home! Applying what they learned at homeschool just came natural when applying it to real life. When we learned genetics, we used our Australian shepherd puppies and Nigerian Dwarf goats as real life subjects. They raised guinea pigs for a short time to learn how a business worked. They kept track of their debits/credits and learned how hard it was to keep a business afloat. Their work ethics are stellar. But their academics, you ask? The oldest of the three got full ride academic and rodeo scholarships her first year at college.
I was very hesitant to homeschool at first…but the years I spent with my three girls I wouldn’t trade for the world!
Congrats! I miss home schooling- we did k-12 with all 3 of our children (24yrs). Also congratulations on new baby. We have new grandson, these babies bring smile to our faces.
You have made a wise decision and will be blessed beyond measure… Thank you for sharing your journey.
Congrats on the new baby!
And Congrats on choosing to homeschool! I homeschooled my three boys Pre-8th grade, and loved it! I miss those days of carefree, fun learning with them when they were young!
And (maybe when they’re a little older its more important) find some other homeschoolers in your area to go on field trips and museum classes, etc together and be a support to one another.
May God bless you with everything you need to educate these little people He entrusted you with. And know that He will, because He provides whatever we need to do what He calls us to do.
Blessings and keep having fun!
You have made a great choice in deciding to homeschool. We homeschool and my daughter is now in her junior year in a private university (with no student debt because of financial aid and scholarships), and my son is still with me for his senior year of high school. No worries over socialization when you have 4H, sports, church youth group, piano lesson, choir, etc. We have to worry about spending too much time socializing and not getting studies or chores done (hobby farm). I just want to say that our curriculum problems were solved with Christian Liberty Press. They have the best prices that I could find (by a long shot) and you don’t have to order grade-level kits. You can pick and choose what works for you and buy only what you need. Personally, we have found that A Beka books are very user-friendly for moms and students. Bob Jones University choices were far too teacher-intensive for me. Saxon math is also a very popular choice with home, public, and private schools. We love it because the incremental approach results in very good retention and way less children frustration because they don’t have to do the same type of problem 30 times in one day. It is up to the parents to choose what works best for our children, and I feel extremely blessed that the Lord helped me to quickly locate what has worked well for us. I have to agree with another posting on your site in saying that making my first grade son sit out recess because he couldn’t stay in his chair for class helped my decide to homeschool. I feel that my children are so much more prepared for college and life because they were homeschooled. They are confident, seem to excel at whatever they attempt, and their peers seem to be looking to them for leadership. May the Lord bless your upcoming adventure.
Watch out about Saxon math published after the year 2000. They were revamped to use common core math; a true disaster! The old Saxon was amazing! For the first time in my life, I understood math! and could easily teach it to my children, through high school.
Thank you for this blog. 🙂
I love reading how other Moms structure their days. I just started Kindergarten with my two boys and am using My Fathers World cirruculem.
I love homeschooling! ! Man, I love being home with them every single day and watching them learn to read and write. I don’t have to miss a single moment. <3
Now, God is certainly developing my patience. Oh yes He is. Whew.
Everytime I school, I learn so much and I always try to remember the advice a fellow homeschool Mom gave me, "Character over Cirruculem".
Please contuine to write about your homeschooling journey! 🙂
Margaret Dutkowski says
Congratulations on your decision to homeschool! I waited until my youngest son was ready for high school before doing it and I’m so glad I did. We had so much freedom to learn what he was interested in. When he was in 11th grade, we signed him up by special permission, to enroll in adult night school to learn to be an electrician 3 nights a week. He had been interested in rewiring every lamp in the house for a couple years. He graduated from night school in 11th grade, and when he was a senior, he volunteered on 2 Habitat for Humanity builds. After graduating from homeschool, he enrolled in a 2 year technical school, studied electrical contracting, and now has his Master Electrician license and owns his own contracting business! I’m so proud of him. We were part of a homeschooling co-op where we had lots of enriching experiences and made lots of friends. My only regret is that I waited so long and didn’t homeschool his brothers and his sister. God will bless your efforts. With a mom who is such a good qriter, I’m sure your children will have lots of writing experiences too. Thanks for sharing.
Laural Llewellyn says
I write to you today from the Fiji islands. I am guardian to my 4 year old grand daughter. We are isolated in the jungle, completely off the grid, and Miss Liliana is getting to the age where she ‘should’ be in school.
I love your ‘kumon’ books idea. I will get those for her, but does anything I do to ‘teach’ Liliana need to be ‘certified’ or ‘accredited’?
Here in Fiji, if she were to go to the school in the village, she needs a ‘certificate’ to graduate from kindergarden to attend 1st grade. (Not that she is going to walk an hour to the village for school), but
I guess I am concerned that Miss Lili will need some sort of ‘proof’ of education out in the ‘other world’, if she chooses to go out there in the future.
OH, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW PRAIRIE BABY GIRL!!! She is beautiful.
Vinaka Vaka Levu,
Fiji Nana (Laural)
Congratulations on home schooling, from a 22 year veteran! Our children’s friends wished they were homeschooled, sighting various difficulties at government schools. To avoid the dumbing-down of common core, our grandchildren are now being home schooled! It was one of the most difficulty vocations I carried out, in my life; I never wanted it to be any different. I “joyed” every single morning getting ready. I do not regret it. What an amazing lifestyle! I hung on to the Lord with all I had!
Everything you’ve taught your children up to the age of five was “homeschool “. I’m happy you chose to continue!
We began homeschooling when we lived near Sheridan Wyoming and I went through a couple styles before I had the courage to just do what worked for us, instead of the rigid traditional school that I thought would make naysayers and school officials happy. We “do” less now and our son is “learning” more.
Each family must figure out what works for them. It appears you have already figured that out.
Best wishes for a success!
So glad you are enjoying homeschooling so far! As you prepare for a new little one…I just wanted to leave a few words of homeschooling testimony and encouragement in that regard. I just had baby #7 last Sunday. Our other children are 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 years old, and have been homeschooled from the start. I think one of the best things about us being at home together is that we know each other so well. The children love learning together, and playing together. They understand how to work alongside and support one another. This week, my oldest 4 have fluidly swapped chores to account for me not doing anything I usually do. Breakfast is served. Littles are fed, changed, dressed. There have been squabbles here and there, but overall it has been beautiful to witness. They know we are a team;they know there are seasons in life when parts of the team need extra support; they adore their new little sister, and clamor to hold her, stare at her, soak in our precious gift from God. They seem to understand that babies are life-changing, and that it is good. They know how real life runs around here, and they are able to keep it moving with compassion, patience, and good humor. In the next week or two we will resume “school” , and there will be workbooks, tests, projects, etc. However, this week has been a test of what life will bring back to them again and again in different forms. It pleases me that they are passing with flying colors!
You are so blessed! And all You are saying about this bound between children I can see in my family.
Nobody has mentioned that you can probably home school in the time that it would take you to take and fetch them from a normal school!
Look into Charlotte Mason, especially for the book lists.
Good for You and Your family !
We are homeschoolers for… almost 8 years. We live in Poland on a little farm – comparing to Your prairie, well it’s tiny 😉
Homeschooling is wonderful!
I’m sure You will all have such an incredible time and relationship – we do and we are so glad we’ve decided do teach our children – 4 kiddos.
AH, so glad you are going to homeschool. I miss those days and the closeness we enjoyed. We homeschooled two for over 16 years. Our sons have grown up to be fine young men, well liked and respected, and excellent fathers. One graduated cum laud from a tough college with a degree in electrical engineering. The other is gifted with his hands and is an aircraft mechanic and a leader at his work. Both were always able to start up a conversation with total strangers from young kids up through adults. I remember the day one was late coming home from a part time job. I got very annoyed since he was so late for dinner, Turns out that on the trip home he passed a field and saw it was on fire and a couple folks were out trying to put it out, so he stopped to help. That is what I call socialization; a concern for and respect for your fellow man. And not as likely to be taught sitting quietly in a classroom. The socialization of your children will be taught as you lead them to notice those in need and encourage them to help according to their abilities. It’s also how a child learns self respect. Those opportunities come out in the community, helping neighbors, and ministry at church. If you ever start doubting if you are “socializing” your children enough just make friends with some school teachers and start listening to the stories they tell of things that happen at school. It amazes me that they will look down on homeschoolers for lacking socialization opportunities while telling me about the girls who loudly announce in the classroom they have to go to the bathroom because they are having their period, or have to send a girl to the office repeatedly day after day because of her revealing clothing, or the fights they have to break up, the foul language used by the kids, their bullying each other, the disrespect shown toward teachers, and I can go on. I’m just baffled how that is supposed to be a good environment where children can learn to get along!
Jill Winger says
Amen! Agree 100% Sue!
Your children are indeed blessed to have such an environment to learn. You are giving them the best. All the homeschooled children I have known and there have been quite a few in our church, have been wonderful, responsible, delightful human beings, well prepared to take on whatever God should have planned for them. Many blessings to you and your family!
Thanks for sharing Jill! I remember reading your homeschooling post last year and thinking how true it was about homesteading being some of the best learning available! I’m happy to say that I’m going to be able to stay home with my 4 year old this year and start homeschool preschool on the farm. From someone who grew up with no pets and public schooling it wasn’t exactly the “logical” choice, but it’s the right one. While it may not be perfect for everyone, but for my husband and I, the simple life is the best!
I don’t have any children yet, so I don’t homeschool! But I was homeschooled. I love it. I think it’s the best education there is. It helps children think WAYYYYYY outside the box. I’m soooo far outside the box, in most everything I do. But I love it, because I am able to think on way more levels, to solve problems, to envision how people did things years ago, before modern ways took over, to be able figure out how to do things more organically. I love it!
Jill Winger says
thinking outside the box <----- yes!
Elizabeth L. Johnson says
Probably no one will see this reply because it is now August 2016; nevertheless I enjoyed reading this re-posted blog about home schooling. I home schooled for 22 years. I liked your comment, Jill, about the entrepreneur lifestyle. Long ago I figured out that home schooling was a lifestyle. When you wrote “entrepreneur” I realized something. Then you, further down in the paragraph, wrote “industrial”. The two are so opposite each other. I read Herrick Kimball’s blog, The Deliberate Agrarian, now called Upland. He has written about industrial slavery. It occurs to me that entrepreneurship, even home farming, takes a lot of responsibility…and then there’s the opposite, working as an industrial slave. It takes no true self-responsibility to be a slave. Being completely responsible in a “family economy”, under the Lord, is how you can (as you said), “be our own boss, and build OUR dreams–not someone else’s.” Such a lifestyle, inherently agrarian, in addition to working your own talent and skill on your own property, under your own sovereignty, dominion, and authority, makes for small communities of neighbor relationship, and a possibility to look to the Lord, instead of government, and it makes “small government”, just as our founding fathers had in mind, when writing the Constitution. Now we know why we have central, big government…because people give up self-government/responsibility into someone else’s hands; say, to industrial slavery and big government. Now I see just why the couple in the garden were agrarian…and what has happened in our world of troublesome cities and suburbs, generally speaking. Mankind was “scattered” over the face of the earth for a reason… to be agrarian to a degree, to be entrepreneural with our individual talents, and thus in a lifestyle of relationship to God and neighbor.
Jill Winger says
Amen Elizabeth! I love how you articulated this!
I am so happy you have chosen to homeschool your Prairie kids!
We taught our two boys at home and found the experience wonderful
and so enriching to each of us. One son is an engineer at a TV station and the
other owns a general contracting business. We are so proud of how well rounded
and men of excellence they are!
Jill Winger says
That is awesome! Well done!
Heidi Villegas says
I am so glad you are able to homeschool your children. I am a fourth grade teacher and a grandmother with four grown children who were all educated in the public school system in Nevada. Although they turned out wonderfully (one even graduated from West Point, which is more difficult to get into than Harvard), I have to say that what you are giving your children is priceless. If I had had the opportunity to be able to stay home and homeschool my children—especially in an environment like yours—I would not have hesitated for a moment. Good for you! (And your sweet babies!) 🙂
Jill Winger says
Thank you Heidi! xoxo
Desiree Shaffer says
I am a veteran homeschooler. My son is 20 and just left for for Liberty University yesterday. (He got his associates degree and worked for two years after high school graduation). My daughter is a homeschool senior this year and we have homeschooled the the whole way through. When they were ages 5 and 2, we moved to the country so that they could grow up in a healthy atmosphere. Looking back, deciding to homeschool and move to the country were the best decisions we could have made. You will have ups and downs in your homeschooling journey, but I just wanted to let you know that at the end you will look back and see that it was all worth it!
Jill Winger says
I love it Desiree! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. 🙂
Denise Brown says
Hi Jill! You are a great teacher and probably a great learner. It takes both to create what you are doing. I got my BS in Child Development / Family Relations and specialized in Early Childhood Education. I also taught Preschool for 20 years. What you are doing is what I have done for years with my education. Life on a homestead is all hands-on– the best way to learn. Here’s to many more happy and fulfilling years offering the best education to your children!
Jill Winger says
Thanks for the kind words, Denise! I love hearing from those who are experienced educators who are supportive of homeschool. 🙂
I just “worked myself out of a job” in May–my youngest daughter finished 14 years of homeschooling (she was four when we started, and wanted to do school like her two older sisters!) and started college last Monday! We enjoyed homeschooling immensely. Since we moved back to the home ranch and live 50 miles (exactly one hour) from town, we would never have seen our kidlets in the daytime hours had they attended public school. They had asked me already if I would homeschool them, so we took the plunge and never looked back. There was never any issue about whether or not they would see and interact with others. Church twice a week, countless hours in different 4-H projects and teams, family/neighborhood/cousins parties for birthdays, Christmas, weddings, new babies…….the hardest part of homeschooling sometimes was STAYING HOME!!! Ha, ha! My girls are comfortable around people of all ages, because they have interacted with everyone from very young to very old, in many different settings.
My Daddy would stick his head in our classroom, which was the back room furnished with a table and chairs, computer and desk, etc., multiple times every day just to see what the girls were up to, and my youngest would be over at her Granny’s house (50 feet away) in a flash if I looked away–they kept a game of Concentration or “store”, their own creation, going all the time. If a pet goat was having a kid, or if my husband needed help outside, or if it started snowing, it was fun to go blasting out the door for a little bit before coming back in to continue lessons. By the way, we never had a “bad weather day” that shut down our classroom! The kids loved to do schoolwork in their jammies sometimes. I was kind of regimented in my teaching, for the simple reason that I am usually disorganized. I kept to a schedule as far as what order we did subjects each day, but if math needed extra time, we did math for extra time. If they had their spelling words down before test day, they didn’t have to go over them as much as if they were struggling. If we had doctor’s appointments, we went to them and made up our lessons later. (I actually broke my elbow the very first week we started our homeschool adventure! Got thrown off a horse and landed on a rock. That entailed a trip to the local clinic for an x-ray, then a trip on to the bigger city for a cast.) I rewarded the kids each year with no school the week of Thanksgiving, and we managed to get finished for the year before the local school did, so the kids could “brag” about being done when the townies still had a week or so to go.
When they reached the upper grades, we chose to use the DVDs available from A Beka, so the kids didn’t have to rely on my non-math/non-science skills to learn. Was it always easy to teach three grades at once? No, it wasn’t. Do I feel like I did everything perfectly? Far from it! Do I regret one instant? No, I don’t. We used the A Beka program all the way through and really liked it, but I know there are many other curricula out there that are just as good. I liked how a spelling or vocabulary word of the week would pop up in a history lesson or a science lesson, since all our subjects were in the same program. The kids talked about “my class” just as if they were sitting down in Florida with the kids on the DVDs.
Young mothers and fathers, you CAN homeschool your children, because who has more invested in them than you? I was blessed to have both my parents and my husband’s parents supporting us 100%, once they saw that homeschooling was a good thing. At first, they were leery, and that was OK. After a very short time, they were our biggest cheerleaders! My oldest daughter graduated from college seven years ago and is married, and recently blessed us with our first grandchild! My middle daughter graduated from college in May (both from Texas A&M! Whoop!), and has moved back home to help on the ranch, at least temporarily. And, of course, I mentioned already that my youngest just started her college career. They make my husband and me so proud, with their servants’ hearts and their happy personalities! I feel like one of the greatest things I have done is homeschooling my kids.
If YOU are thinking about homeschooling, pray about it, make sure your spouse is in agreement, trust God, and go for it!
Jill Winger says
I love this!! Thank you for sharing your encouraging words and story!
I think it’s great that you homeschool your kids! Thanks for the blog. I homeschooled my older children for 5 years and I would not have done it any different.
Ashley Wright says
Thanks for sharing your story. It was really encouraging. I have learned through homeschooling that learning can be done constantly and can be incredibly fun. Thanks!
Joseph Foster says
Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. Actually I haven’t decided to choose homeschooling or public school for my children. But now I’ve made up my mind that I find homeschooling can be so interesting and my childs will definitely love it!
Rebecca Crosby says
This was so helpful!!! I spent 3 hours with horrible internet trying to pick a curriculum and feeling overwhelmed as a first time homeschool mom last night. This has encouraged me to not worry about a set curriculum to be married to the next 18 years.
online tutoring says
Thanks for sharing Jill. This is an inspiring post.
Becca S. says
I love it! This is similar to how we’ve homeschooled our children during their younger years. The farm provides endless learning experiences! But, I’m curious, especially as my children are growing up (and similarly ages to your kids), what does your homeschool day & learning look like now with upper elementary/early middle school children?