As a homeschool mom in general, the main questions always asked are: number one, what about socialization? and number two, what curriculum do you use? Lastly, as a large family homeschool mom, one of the biggest questions is, how do you do it all? So let’s cover these topics one by one.
Homeschool and Socialization
My first thought is, not all socialization is good socialization. People have said to me, “No offense, but I don’t want my kids to be the weird homeschool kids.” My response is typically, “There was weird public school kids when I went to public school. I believe it all depends on how they are raised. If the parents are socialized, most likely, the kids will be. If the parents are not well, socialized, most likely, the kids will not be.”
There are also so many different ways to socialize your kids outside of school. If you think about the public school system, the kids actually don’t have a lot of time to socialize. They may have enough time to talk here and there and get to meet friends, but the real socialization happens outside of school or at lunch or recess. Even within the school setting, groups of peers are made so quickly. It doesn’t allow normal socialization. For instance, people categorize you into either the popular group, punk group, the nerd group, etc..Is this true socialization? Is this actually beneficial? For a child to get labeled by other peers and put in to one of these boxes?
As a homeschooler there are many opportunities for socialization. Kids work one on one with the parents, they also work in groups with their siblings.
Homeschoolers benefit from having the options to do more socialization with different age ranges, from elderly, to adults, to peers their age, to younger kids and even toddlers and babies. They typically have more time for extracurriculars, if the family chooses to do so. Since they do not have homework on top of their school time, it frees them up for a lot more social time. Plus, their school time usually doesn’t take as long as the public school time, as it is essentially a babysitter for working parents.
Many homeschoolers participate in co-ops, service projects, church, activities, and many more different settings. This allows plenty of socialization if this is your goal for schooling, which it is not my main focus or care. As stated earlier, socialization comes naturally from watching parents socialize and being in social settings as a family.
What Curriculum Do You Use?
Honestly, there are so many options these days it can be overwhelming. You need to figure out what the main vision and goal for your family is.
Personally, I want to raise biblically minded individuals. I want them to think for themselves, ask questions. My hope is in doing so they will pursue Jesus and a biblical life.
Therefore, at the top of my list is the Bible. You can read from it, discuss it, have your kids copy verses from it, memorize verses, and more.
I like them to have their own Bible reading time as soon as they can read. This year we are utilizing Abeka’s Bible Curriculum to do together as a family.
Hymnals are great for them to learn as well. All of my kids have had piano lessons, I highly recommend getting them into some sort of musical instrument. This allows them to both sing and play hymnals, worshipping the Lord.
I’m not a huge fan of pre-K curriculum. However, I do utilize different teaching tools to help teach the littles basic concepts. Also, having so many children, some of my pre-k kids ask to do school too, so I like to provide something for them when they are interested.
I have a YouTube playlist specifically for the younger age kids. One of the songs is an ABC song that also teaches the sounds of the alphabet. Another song teaches days of the week, months of the year and seasons of the year. I also have on the playlist books of the Bible songs, color, songs, counting songs and more.
I have enjoyed utilizing Baby Signing Time and Signing Time with all of my children. This helps them before they are even of speaking age to communicate. It is also a great second language for them to continue learning as well.
Another resource I like is Leapfrog’s Letter Factory and Talking Words Factory.
Recently, I have come across Sustainable Homeschooling by Karen Rodriguez. She has an excellent pre-K program, even my kindergartners and first grader enjoyed the activities last year. This curriculum teaches biblical principles and uses the KJV Bible. I highly recommend it!
Play play play! It is one of the most important building blocks for any child. Outdoor play or indoor play, structured play or unstructured play, all of it is so beneficial.
I highly recommend just getting your kids sidewalk chalk, water colors, finger paints, face paints, markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc. When they are this little, let them just have fun and go at it. Sometimes they will ask for a specific coloring page, you can print almost any request for free online. Sometimes I’ll just tear out a sheet from a coloring book. Mainly my kids like to use computer printer paper and go at it. As they get older they enjoy the YouTube channel, Art For Kids Hub.
Lower Elementary Curriculum
This year we are trying The Good and The Beautiful Math curriculum. I am only using it on my kids who are not ready for Saxon math yet.
The ones who cannot read and are ready to learn use the book called, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The ones who can read utilize the Robinson curriculum book list.
This year we are using The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting. My younger kids are also penpals with their cousins and some friends in another state. At some point in between lower and upper elementary, they also learn cursive.
We try to keep structured lessons short and allow the younger kids to enjoy lots of play time still. Some extracurricular activities my two girls (1st and 2nd grade this year) enjoy include swim lessons and horse riding lessons.
Upper Elementary Curriculum
At this age my kids will utilize self study to complete all of their curriculum. If they need help, they can always ask me for it.
After my kids have learned all their math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, they are able to start Saxon 54.
They will utilize the Robinson curriculum book list. For writing this year, they will be using The Good and The Beautiful Creative Writing curriculum.
Most of my kids have continued to piano at this point, I have allowed two to drop out of formal lessons because of their personality types. Even having dropped out, they learned enough of the basics that they continue to play and learn from YouTube.
Middle and High School Curriculum
We are continue with the Robinson curriculum. The book list, an essay a day, and Saxon math are at the core of their daily assignments.
At this point as well, my kids are pursuing personal goals and interests. One of our boys has enjoyed being a part of local plays, learning the guitar and ukele (thanks to YouTube), and may attempt welding at the tech college this fall. Our other son enjoys drawing and animation. He has a drawing pad that connects to the computer where he can create drawings and fun animations.
They still enjoy outside play. Whether it be backflips on the trampoline, swinging on the swings, mountain biking, dirt biking, skiing, snowboarding, or playing any sport with their siblings and dad.
How to Choose YOUR Curriculum
What works for you may be different than what works for me. What your kids will do or will not do may vary from child to child. There are certain core classes and basics that must be learned. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error. You will excitedly purchase a curriculum and then get burnt out mid year with how labor intensive it is. Other times you will try something and absolutely love the results. Don’t stress if it takes you time to find what works for both you and your kids.
How Do You Do it ALL?
You don’t. Let me repeat that: YOU DON’T DO IT ALL. You can’t do it all. As a large family homeschool mom I have learned to delegate. As the kids get older they can help out a lot more with household chores, as they should. These are important skills that every child needs to learn to become an independent adult who knows how to run their own household.
First, offload whatever you can. If you are drowning running from activity to activity, coming home overwhelmed and exhausted, drop the activities.
One time I had my two oldest boys enrolled in soccer. I had two littles ones in tow as well. At the time, having so many young kids, running twice a week to soccer practice during dinner time plus having two soccer games every Saturday became too much. Some Saturdays my husband had to work, it was not feasible for me to run one kid to a field and run the other to another field when their games were at the same time. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable leaving my young kids at a public soccer field without me. So I had to choose who got to play and who didn’t. It also was not fun when their games were at the same time and we had to split up and decide who goes to who’s game. So we stopped doing that.
This is just one example of offloading. Another is when I quit doing a co-op that was too labor intensive for me as a mother with older kids and brand new babies. They expected you to sign up as a helper a certain amount of times per class that your kid was enrolled in. That’s fine and great, but when you have kids in all the grades, you had to sign up for almost as full of a schedule as they had. Plus, add having a newborn and toddlers (who you don’t want to put in the nursery) it made it impossible. So eventually I dropped out of that.
Now that we have talked about cutting back some extracurriculars, what about house work? Train your kids when they are little. Make it fun. Sing clean up songs and show them how to put the toys in the basket. Have the toddler run the newborn diaper to the trash. Get them a little broom so they can “sweep” too. Initially they won’t do most things right, but they will find joy in working along side you. This applies to the kitchen too. Scoop out the flour in the measuring cup, then help guide their little chubby hand to dump it into the mixing bowl.
As my kids have gotten older their responsibilities have increased. Each of my older kids are assigned a daily zone: Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Bathrooms. They rotate every day who does dishes. They are all in charge of doing their own laundry. Many of them have animal chores as well, where they can make money by selling the goods produced by the animals.
All of the children are assigned to straighten their rooms daily. The younger ones pitch in with picking up toys and doing random tasks throughout the day. My 3yo loves to sweep, so we bought a smaller broom to make it easier for her to manage. You can also buy a cheap super lightweight vacuum, my littles enjoy using alongside myself or another child vacuuming with the big vacuum.
Bottom line: don’t expect perfection. Praise your kids for their efforts and for trying. Address issues if older kids are not completing tasks correctly, but still, don’t demand perfection. The house will get messy. Right after you mop, a kid will spill something sticky or come in from outside tracking mud all over the house. Teach your kids to simply and quickly clean up any spills or messes they make, this will help.
How do I get my kids to do their school and chores?
I use screen time/free time as an incentive. My kids are not allowed any screens until school and chores are complete. They still have limited screen time each day, but if they want to be able to use it they understand that their school and chores must be completed. This really helps to motivate them to complete their chore lists.
I hope this is helpful to you!
May God bless your efforts in your homemaking and homeschooling ventures.