A Year In The Life Of A Homeschool Dad

I started this journey with our family one year ago. As happy as we were with the private school our boys were attending we just couldn’t afford it anymore. Government schools were out of the question. They would be better off if I let them dig holes in the back yard and look for bugs than to put them through that torture. What with the SOL(standards of learning), NCLB (no child left behind), and Common Core, how could I prepare them for a life as men of adventure when all around us are mediocre schools, teaching to tests, and dumbing kids down.

Our first year has been great. I know this isn’t always the case for many families. And don’t get me wrong it hasn’t all been perfect. But if you have one parent who is home there is very little excuse left to you. “oh, but I’m not wired for it”   Twaddle!!!

  1. 1.
    trivial or foolish speech or writing; nonsense.
    “he dismissed the novel as self-indulgent twaddle”

If this 40 year old man can do it anyone can. My work gives me the freedom to do website development from home. My wife is a counselor who works outside of the home. So for us the choice was. A. I get a job in a market with no jobs and no degree to support that idea even if there were.  B. I work from home and educate the kids.

It’s not normal. I’m a mans man. I have a beard. I shoot guns. I go camping in the woods. I like things that go boom. I hate skinny jeans. But you know what; I was made for this. and maybe you were too.

The first thing I would say is that you can’t take any of this too seriously your first year. Take it easy. This is hard for you type A people. But do it. Go slow.

7 GreatHomeschoolConventionsOur first step was to visit the homeschool convention in Greenville,SC. It’s a great convention and if you are anywhere within reach of one I can’t recommend it highly enough. Great speakers and great workshops. Further, there is a kids camp you can send your kids to in parallel with the convention.

We just got back from the convention again. Bonus: Krispy Cream donuts are within walking distance.
Note: stay at the Hilton as it’s only 1 freeway exit away from the convention.

When you hit the show you’ll walk into a huge room with hundreds of vendors. Don’t panic. It’s really not that hard. All these people are there to help and they love talking to you. They are there to do so in fact. I myself have done different trade shows and love when people stop to talk to me.

Step two was to sort out what type of schooling you want to do.

There is Classical, UnSchooling, Eclectic, Hands On, Hand Off, and lots more. For Curriculum; There is Abecca, BJU Press, Son Light, Fathers World, Christian Liberty Press, And a host of other providers. There are also TONS of vendors that just specialize in one subject or concept; Writing, Bible, Reading, Etc. Like old books? Yep they have people selling those too.

I’m not a type A person. Not really. While I like structure I’m Gen X and don’t like structure. This is a paradox but one I’ve found to be true. With that I discovered that I like an Eclectic approach. Imagine a big wagon and I went from table to table randomly grabbing curriculum. That’s me. But for simplicity we settled on what many people call “curriculum in a box” and ordered from Christian Liberty Press. It was an eclectic mix of curriculum. I loved their spelling and phonics and history. the English was from BJU Press but with a teachers manual and tests crafted by them.  We then chose Math U See for…math.

9I knew going into this that I’d be taking it easy. So while I intended to do all the stuff they sent me, I found that I didn’t do it. Frankly I wasn’t trilled with their science books and while I liked the theology of their Bible books it just wasn’t me. I knew that my main focus would be on Reading, Writing/English, Math.  Take a deep breath, it’s OK. Some of you are thinking “that’s it? You must be nuts!!! “ This is year one. Don’t take it so seriously remember?. You can add in stuff you are passionate about. If you are a big history buff add it in.  Art? Add it.  Music? Yep.

Step Three you’ll need to do some planning. How do you want to teach your kids; One at a time? In a group? All around the table?

You will need to do some trial and error. I’ve found that with about half the subjects my boys at age 7 and 9 needed some hands on. I tried staggering stuff they could do on their own with stuff they needed help with. For example I’d do spelling with my 7 year old while my 9 year old was doing his math assignments. This was OK but I found it to involve a lot of “go read something or take a break while I help your brother”. So about half way through the year I switched to one on one instruction for each child. the other can do whatever he wants while waiting.

Another thing you will need to do is pick a target start and end date for school. You will want to leave 2 to 3 weeks of cushion in your planning to deal with trips, sickness, etc. I like to have 5 solid days of class. I like to do my testing on Friday’s. If anything gets in the way of that I bag the whole week. We began school at the end of August and will be done mid may. Does this mean that we take the summer off? No. But it’s mostly filled with reading, art, and other things I think need work oh and fun SUMMER IS ABOUT FUN!!!

So that gives us about 40 weeks of instruction. What you will need to do is figure out pace. This is easier than you think, but I found NOBODY that explained this to me. So I spent a good week looking at my books on the table trying to sort this out.

Massive secret equation:

Take your # of weeks divided by the number of chapters in each book = pace ( W / Chapters = Pace )

Something I liked to do if we had a week it was going to snow a lot. I’d drop History because I knew I only had 28 weeks worth of it. And keep math because I knew I had 40 weeks of that. It made a fun surprise for the kids and they loved “doing less work”. The jokes on them. they would have had less work anyway.

One of the neat things about homeschooling is that we get to discover the weaknesses and strengths of our children. My youngest is very self driven. But he is struggling with reading. It’s driven me to help him read better because he wants to do the work on his own and I want that for him. I’ve also discovered he has a knack for art and can do a great job, with no art classes, at copying a picture by just looking at it. With my oldest I’ve discovered a mind filled with wonder and he is a great story teller.  I’d heard (see video at the bottom of my site) that young people often test at genius level and as they get older the group think of school dumbs them down. It’s a shame. Not going to happen with my kids.

What does this year hold? More work. More subjects.

My attitude in year one was very Generation X “whatever man”. What’s the worst that could happen? we suck at this and put them back in private school.  Well we don’t suck at this. It’s actually a lot of fun.

Some curriculum changes.

BJU Press for Science, History, and English
Art is a DVD curriculum that we discovered at the convention
Bible too
We will be adding in Writing for my 4th grader to expand his abilities
Reading expansion for my 2nd grader
Language: Russian – Introduction level stuff. Alphabet and such.

The first year we tried very hard to get an understanding of the process and how our family fit into it. We now have that and can expand their learning. Because we made this year fun they enjoyed it and are looking forward to it.

Want to know how many hours I spend every day doing school? Usually less than 2. And yet my boys are both doing mostly “A” level work in all their classes. Next year will involve more time. At least 1 to 2 hours more. Still at 3 to 4 hours a day I’m still educating my kids better than the government.

YOU CAN DO THIS. If you want to. You can homeschool your kids. It’s easier than you might think.

One Response to A Year In The Life Of A Homeschool Dad

  1. Linda Feigel March 24, 2014 at 5:29 am #

    So proud of you for doing this for your boys. What a wonderful and loving story; so happy you are enjoying it. I hope the kids are too. Enjoy year two…

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