homeschool series

We are down to one of our last homeschool interviews. Today we welcome Heather to the blog who homeschools her 3 little ones and blogs over at Weller Mama Blog.

What are your top 3 reasons for homeschooling?

Our family chose to homeschool so we could allow our children continued time to learn through play, to develop and nurture a strong family culture around reading, love of math, science and nature study and to allow each child to be themselves, feel confident and develop their personalities with loving support.

How do you choose curriculum?

During our first year I leaned heavily on my years of teaching middle school and that fell flat; there was no joy and school at home just didn’t work. When I allowed my children’s interest and intellect to guide me, things started humming along. I use a wide variety of curriculum and philosophy in our learning. Some of my favorites are RightStart math, BraveWriter materials, and Moving Beyond the Page. The library is our biggest resource and our city provides us with many opportunities to get out and experience all the cool things it has to offer.

What are the ages of your kids, and at what age did you start homeschooling?

My children are 3, 5, and 8. Everyone attends or attended a nearby play-based preschool and my oldest daughter started homeschooling after her K year. My son who is 5 will “come home” next year to start K with us! The 3 year old will still go to preschool. (Why do I choose to do this? I love the school and the connections we have made there. All the children are still involved in some way with the school. The 2nd grader reads weekly to various classes at the school and all the children play soccer there.)

What is your biggest homeschooling failure? Success?

I mentioned my biggest homeschool failure (or, ahem, teaching moment) already. When I started homeschooling I put more emphasis on “school” than “home” and no one liked it. When I flipped the focus to home instead, everything started to fall into place. Our homeschooling started to work when I relaxed about trying to do it all and chose to let our learning reflect the interests expressed by my kids.

I would say my greatest success is having kids who love to learn and aren’t afraid to express themselves. We are very supportive of the things they love and we want them to know who they are-kids who really understand themselves. And I love the family culture we have created around learning. Our home reflects what we do day to day; science experiments on the kitchen counter, art hanging on the walls, math problems on the giant chalkboard, math manipulatives used as puzzles, games and books scattered everywhere so we can sit down and read or play any time.

What is your philosophy on education?

I believe everyone has an unlimited capacity to learn. I believe every child should have the opportunity to explore their fascinations. I believe we learn best when we do it together. I believe we are all inherently creative and that it takes many different forms. I believe reading is the foundation of most learning. I believe math doesn’t have to be a bore. I believe getting messy could be the best form of education. I believe working to acquire any skill takes hard work and hard play.

Explain a typical day.

Since two of three children attend preschool, I will share what a typical Tuesday looks like in our home. Most kids are up and about sometime between 6:30/7AM. They usually choose to watch a show and then have breakfast. After breakfast, it is a mad scramble to get dressed and out the door. After we drop off the younger kids, my daughter and I come home, make a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and snuggle up on the couch for Morning Time. For about an hour we will read from a varied group of books-Bedtime Math, memory work, fiction, non-fiction, something about geography or world cultures, and whatever our focus read aloud is that week. Right now we are reading both a biography of Jane Goodall as well as Sign of the Beaver. After we are through reading, mental math and memory work, we scoot into the dining room and complete copy work or dictation, a la Charlotte Mason and Julie Bogart of BraveWriter, and then we move onto math. I use an open and go program: RightStart Math which is games based. Lunch and preschool pick-up. Afternoons see us outside if the weather is cooperating either taking a nature walk, conducting a science experiment, holding poetry teatime (though this happens in the morning a lot, too), finishing up any written work or doing a new art project. We live in a small but kid-packed neighborhood so once public school lets out, it is a free-for-all playtime outside or in basements until dinner.

Explain your homeschool adventure in one word.

Ever-evolving (and open and flexible and artsy) Whoops-that’s 4 🙂

What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding of homeschooling?

People still equate homeschool with wanting to shield our children from the world but that is so narrow a view. We choose to educate at home to open up the world and all its possibilities for our children. We want them to get out and experience all the fascinating amazing-ness the wide world has to offer; schools simply don’t have all the resources I would like to give my kids. I want to nurture their curiosity as long as I can!

What is one tip to avoid burnout?

You will never give them everything they need to know so don’t try! All great passions are self-directed so just do all you can (avoiding exhaustion) to give them a wide-open view and the knowledge and skills you believe they will need but trust that they will take initiative to learn what they need to in order to live a fulfilling life.

Do you have a motto or quote for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?

I don’t have a motto. Maybe I should get one. If I had to make one up on the spot, I would make it: You Can Do It and I Will Help You.

Best piece of advice for a new homeschooling parent.

Make learning as natural as possible. Make learning as real as possible. Think about what real scientists, mathematicians, writers, musicians, artists, poets, chefs, and naturalists do…then make it possible to have your kids experience THAT. And reading, reading, reading will do more for learning than nearly anything else. Oh, and even if your kids are big, they still love to have you read to them!

About Heather

homeschool seriesHeather is a homeschooling mom to three terrific kids–the 3 Little Wees, as they are known around her blog, wellermommablog. Before Kids {BK} she was a middle school teacher. Obsessed with learning about learning, getting messy and finding other foods she can spread with peanut butter, Heather also finds time to connect and play with other moms and families all over the place.