Welcome back to another homeschooling interview where I ask homeschooling moms questions about their everyday life. Today, I get to talk to Amy, a speech and language pathologist who blogs over at The Highly Sensitive Homeschooler.
What are your top 3 reasons for homeschooling?
I’ve been interested in homeschooling since I read about it in high school. I thought it was a great way to learn at the child’s pace, and I wished I could take control of my learning like that. Little did I know how important that would be in our own lives after I had children. That is probably my top reason – tailoring the education to the child. Wait – not just the education, the daily life as well. My kids that need to sleep a little more or eat more often can do that. They can use the bathroom when they need to!
We began homeschooling when we took our oldest out of preschool after 4 months. The Montessori school she was in refused to help keep her away from things she was anaphylactically allergic to. I figured if I was going to have this much trouble with a little private school, how much harder was it going to be to fight our huge school system? This was before peanut free schools were really a “thing” around here. So reason number two turned out to be keeping my 3 allergic children happy and healthy.
I think my third reason is a personal one – I enjoy living daily life with my kids, and learning through everything we encounter, instead of having them stuck in a school for months at a time with textbooks, regimentation, and so much useless testing.
How do you choose curriculum?
I do a lot of research on different homeschooling forums to see what others are saying about a program before I buy it. We are very eclectic and don’t use any particular company’s books exclusively. We vary from year to year and child to child, depending on their needs, and also my needs. When I find something that works, I stick with it. After 13 years, I have a good sense of what I like, but also enjoy trying new things.
What are the ages of your kids, and at what age did you start homeschooling?
My children are now 8, 10, 13, 16, and 18. We started homeschooling when my oldest was 4.
What is your biggest homeschooling failure? Success?
Can my biggest homeschooling failure actually be not homeschooling them? A few years ago I put them in school for a year. I don’t regret it, but I realize now I didn’t need to do it, because I was doing fine with them at home. It was a perfect fit for one of my kids, though, so she started at a local high school the year after.
Right now I’d say my biggest success is helping my 18-year-old, who is dyslexic with other LDs, get a 700 on the Reading portion of her SATs and also get into all her college choices so far, with merit scholarships. She did the work on that, but I think our style of working together, and the way we go about language arts, really helped.
What is your philosophy on education?
My philosophy is that education is not something that happens within four walls with a teacher, a textbook, and 30 other kids. That’s “school.” Education is what happens when a child has a relationship with his or her subject, learns about it and makes it his/her own. It’s enhanced by the presence of, and relationship with, other people and how they too are relating to the subject.
Explain a typical day.
We are slow starters lately, as my kids get older. I let them wake up and have a little screen time while I have my tea and do my own screen-y things (email, blogging, etc). At 9:00-ish I make sure they are getting started on something educational.
Sometimes they play a game together, sometimes they get started on their own individual school work. It’s all very changeable from there. They continue to work, or hide, or watch a sibling work. Snacking seems to take up (way too much) time as well.
I keep an eye on things, running a fine line between nagging to get back to work and letting them create memories together. Typically between tracking them down to see if they are working and answering questions for those who need help, I keep busy. Usually by 3 PM we are all a little burnt out from schooling and so we’ll snack (again!) and find something creative to do, or at least something different in style from what they had been doing during the day.
My high schooler is very independent and now works on her own doing her homework for her two community college classes.
Explain your homeschool adventure in one word.
What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding of homeschooling?
That it has to look anything like a day at a typical school. School is seen as the default, but education is so much more than that, and homeschooling can tap into that in a big way.
What is one tip to avoid burnout?
Bring your kids into *your* life and let them see the joy in what you want or need to do, instead of it being always child focused.
Do you have a motto or quote for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?
My blog motto is “Homeschooling with my hands over my ears since 2001” but I’m guessing you mean something inspirational. Then, no, not really.
Best piece of advice for a new homeschooling parent.
Your days won’t always be pretty, or even tolerable. That’s normal – we all have days like that. Sometimes weeks. Focus on relationships and let the education flow from there. Delight in the good moments of learning together.
About the interviewee:
Amy is a homeschooling mother of five, from 8 to 18, and speech-language pathologist. She blogs at The Highly Sensitive Homeschooler about surviving homeschooling while introverted and highly sensitive, along with many other topics.You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. or sometimes hiding in the bathroom with a good book (and a brownie).