“Let your children be children. Let your teens struggle to emerge . Let yourself off the hook . You do not own the world a model family. You don’t have to get it right. Neither do your kids. Everyone gets better at growing up over time- including you ,the parent. Be the one who stands for kindness in your family. Your gentleness will be remembered long after homeschooling is over and your children have gone on to live their adult lives. ” Julie Bogart
Today’s homeschool chat brings you the lovely Esther, who lives by the sea in Cornwall and spends most of her time with her 4 children and husband (when he’s not working). She loves to crochet and recently set up a small business selling crocheted sheepskin slippers:
As a family they really love the outdoors, being in the sea and they also attempt to keep an allotment. They all love Jesus and aspire to travel more and visit various family and friends overseas.
1.Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children
My husband and I live in Cornwall with our 4 children ages 10, 9, 5 and 2. We all love adventures, nature and being outside as much as possible.
2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
We love the freedom that it allows our family and the opportunity to spend so much time together. My eldest 2 tried a year in school after being home educated for a year and then as a family we considered the pros and cons of both and we all chose home education. I’m glad that they had a positive experience of school and still chose home education.
3 )What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?
After breakfast and seeing Daddy off to work (which always involves hanging out the window shouting “see ya later alligator…”) we do some wake up exercise together such as timed running races in the garden, Simon says, cosmic kids or dancing.
We then have what we call circle time, which generally involves singing a worship song together, reading a chapter of the bible (whilst the younger ones thread beads, build towers etc to keep them occupied) and praying, before chatting about our hopes and plans for the day.
We then have table time, which is our formal learning time. Our curriculum this year is based around The Chronicles of Narnia so I read a chapter aloud whilst the children do related copy work and drawing. We generally then grab a hot drink and snack and carry on with perhaps a history book, biography, artist study or whatever it is. At some point in the day the children do their own maths chapter from Life of Fred, or use Khan Academy maths.
Lunch is a shared effort and they have time outside before ‘quiet time’ which is an attempt to allow everyone a time in the day to spend on their own – usually reading or Lego. I’ll catch up on my crochet orders in this time usually.
Afternoons are unstructured but if we are having a home day then the children will often choose to complete a project or activity. We will often be out meeting friends at the beach or park before swimming lessons / hockey / Cubs / climbing or home!
4)What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
I take a lot of inspiration from Charlotte Mason and I would say that we are semi structured in our approach. We love routine and structure but at the same time don’t want to be a slave to it and therefore like to mix things up regularly! In the past we have used Exploring Nature With Children as well as The Good And The Beautiful and will continue to mix and match curriculums as suited.
This year I’m following a Curriculum from The Peaceful Press and have found its the perfect balance for our family at this time.
5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?
I love the freedom it brings alongside the countless quality moments I get to spend with my children, watching them being themselves.
6 )Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?
Yes and I’d say it’s the most important part of our formal time. The children enjoy it and we have precious conversations in that time.
7 )What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
I love teaching history. I feel wrong saying teaching as really I’m learning the subject alongside my children. It was my least favourite subject in school but my children love it and therefore I do too now. We dip in and out of Story of The World – which is fantastic, learning history chronologically is an eye opener. And our current daily curriculum is looking at European history.
I’d say maths brings the most struggle. It’s a subject that my husband and I both enjoy but there’s often a resistance from the children as they don’t like to be ‘told’. Life of Fred and Khan academy have been really great though.
8 )What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
Probably finding balance. It would be impossible to plan every day to meet the needs of four different ages and 2 genders (not to mention my own needs). So there are always compromises and at least one child who has to lump it for a while. We try to overcome this by planning in quality time with each child. In the summer we go on mini wild camping adventures with one child at a time. During the week it might just be that I take one child to do the food shopping with me. Our family’s needs are constantly evolving and we have to regularly reassess how we do things.
9 )How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?
In the midst of the day if we are home I try and encourage quiet time so I might get 2 minutes to myself to breathe and sneak a piece of chocolate… in the summer/ lighter months I try and have a sea swim at least once a week before or after work. In the winter it’s harder as I like to be outside but it’s dark outside of work hours. Setting up my crochet business last year has given me reason to spend time by myself. My husband will sometimes have the children one day so I can work and I’ll usually tie in a coastal walk and swim or coffee.
10 )What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
I really love reading Sally Clarkson’s books and listening to her podcasts. They are both encouraging to me as a mother and home educator.
11 )How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
We try not to debate the issue too much with doubters but just allow people to see how we do things and that the children are still alive and kicking. Time helps.
12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?
5 years will bring us to GCSE age for my older 2. I’m hoping before then we’ll have done a good dose of travel and adventure. I’d like the children to have the option of studying for exams or courses when they feel ready, whether before or after the usual age. I love that home education allows that and courses can be well spread out. I’ve not explored all the options for exams yet as I’d like to see what direction the children are each heading before committing to one way of doing things.
13 )What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
I’d say try to trust that they’re learning each day and relax into it and have fun. If they are leaving the school system I recommend a time of deschooling before considering styles or curriculums. If they are starting from the beginning I’d say keep enjoying living life and going on adventures – formal school doesn’t need to start until much later.
14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?
I’d hope that they’d say something like home schooling made them who they are (as in it allowed them to be themselves) and I’d hope that they’ll look back with fond memories of all the fun things we did.