Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Our Homeschooling Life

Partially because I was inspired by this post by Pioneer Woman, and partially because we are often asked by complete strangers as well as family members about how and why we homeschool, I thought I'd share how things work in our home, complete with pictures and bold-faced opinions galore. ;-D

The first question we always get asked, is "What made you decide to homeschool?". First of all, neither my husband nor I were unfamiliar with the idea of homeschooling. In fact, my husband had even been homeschooled for a semester when he was growing up. He loved it, and since he had a bad experience with being public schooled, he was all for keeping our kids at home. As for me, I had an amazing aunt who homeschooled my cousins, and another older cousin who was also homeschooling her kids. I have always really admired and looked up to these two ladies, and I liked the results I was seeing in their homeschooled children.

Then, when our oldest daughter was born, we talked about the idea of homeschooling her, but it seemed like something for the distant future. A little later, as she developed the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, I started to think about homeschooling more seriously. In a nutshell, children with this mild form of Autism have brains with severely UNDER-developed areas that are meant for social skills and understanding. They're not stupid, they're not "retarded," they just simply cannot understand nor adapt to social situations. I knew in my heart that forcing this little girl into daily social pressure would make her absolutely wilt. I simply could not see myself ever doing it.

In the meantime, we had three more children, and since they were turning out to be normal, social little people I started praying about whether I should send them to school, while I kept their older sister home. The answer startled and yet comforted me.

"No. Your children need to be at home with you."

Now it was official-- we were homeschoolers for the long haul!

Of course, every once in a while when things get frustrating, I get back on my knees to "double check." So far, the answer hasn't changed. And now, ten years later, we are seeing the happy results of our efforts in our home. Of course, our kids are FAR from perfect! But we are really enjoying the great people they're becoming.

So, is there a method to our madness? Those who come to our home and see our daily lives may or may not think so, but we have found what works for us, and we feel good about it! :-)

Thomas Jefferson Education: This is the foundation of our educational philosophies, and the reason we homeschool the way we do. In a nutshell:
  • Each of our children receive one-on-one mentoring from my husband and I in subjects that interest them.
  • My husband and I MUST set the example of studying. If we don't, then our kids won't want to study and learn, either. So study time for mom and dad is a HIGH priority! We want to "Inspire, not Require" academically. (But family chores and jobs ARE required of everyone!)
  • The curriculum used is Classics-- and there are "classics" (works worth experiencing again and again) in EVERY area of study.
  • We do not institute formal academic training until they are at least twelve years old. Before that age, they join in the "Kidschool" learning time, but we do our best to make it fun and relaxed. We do not require them to do assignments, nor do we expect them to be at a certain "level" at a certain age. We teach, we support, we encourage, and they learn at their own pace.
  • Our older students, twelve and older, naturally-- without pressure or pushing-- enter their "Scholar Phase", where they choose to study between 8 to 10 hours a day in subjects that they choose with their mentors (Mom and Dad). Some enter this phase later than others, and there is no pressure or expectation on when they decide to become scholars.
  • Reading classic literature aloud as a family, is also a very important part of our learning.
  • For more detailed information on the "Thomas Jefferson Education" philosophy, see the "Introduction to TJEd" segment of this website: http://www.tjed.org/tjed/intro

The Four Year Plan: This is how I keep my mentoring ideas and our resources where we want them to be. The above book happens to be "Year One" of "The Four Year Plan" created by Ken and Teri Ebert. You can find their books and other products HERE.

Basically, we are on a Four Year rotation of the different subjects we plan to study in the areas of Gospel Study, History, and Science. Of course, reading, writing, and math happen all the time, so they're not included in the rotation.

Of course, we have adjusted their ideas to fit with our family's own needs and goals, but I have enjoyed using their books as a guide in helping me create our customized plan.

Here's what we're studying this year in our "Kidschool" (We're on Year Three):
  • Gospel - Book of Mormon
  • History- Geography
  • Science - Earth Science & Astronomy
Our Gospel study coordinates with the LDS Seminary program, so that our seminary students won't be pulled in too many directions in their scripture study. And while I know that Geography is not really "History," I feel it's important, and found that studying the world's geography will help later in our subsequent history study.

Next year, we'll be studying:
  • Gospel - Doctrine and Covenants/Church History
  • History- United States
  • Science - Physics

Here's a few pictures of our homeschool cork board that helps remind me and the kids about what we're studying.

Our Family Rules(Based on President Gordon B. Hinkley's "Nine Be's".)

History and Science

Gospel Study and Monthly Article of Faith
(We use the Article of Faith for Penmanship practice.)

The Month, Day, and Year

Our Current Family "Read-Aloud" Book
(As you can see, we're currently reading "To Kill a Mockingbird".)

One of these days, I'll post some links and descriptions of the other websites and resources we use. But since this post is long enough, I'll wish you all a good night. And if you have other questions, please leave a comment! :-)

One last thing: I know that God cares about ALL our children, and has a hand in our raising of them. I know that none of us should take our family's educational decisions lightly, and whether it's in the Lord's plans for us to homeschool, or to send kids to public, private, or charter schools, He will help us and support us all the way. We only need to ASK Him.



  1. I think you are amazing. What a great opportunity to grow closer with your kids while helping keep them safe and secure. Mike home-schooled for a semester in 9th grade and loved it, and I've considered that possibility as Lily grows (and as I realize we're going to be adding more kids to our family than I ever planned on!).

  2. I really enjoyed this post. I love how thoughtfully you decided to educate your children and care for your oldest daughter. You are an inspiring mom.


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