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How Does Homeschooling Work?

It isn't for everyone, but it isn't all that mysterious, either. I think this is the best article I've read on the subject in a long time. It's basic, it's friendly and it's realistic. Perfect for forwarding on to your homeschool-curious friends.

"At one end of the spectrum, there are families who take a child's curiosity and interest in a topic and help the child explore the topic. The idea is that, in any area of interest, there are opportunities to explore math, science, history, geography, etc. Those concepts are woven into the child's natural exploration of a topic. Over time, all of the topics covered in "normal" schooling get covered, but they happen in a much different order and at the child's own pace."

"At the other end of the spectrum, there are families who buy all of the books and follow the state curriculum just like a normal school would. The material is simply taught at home in a smaller setting."

I suppose a third group of parents are like me. We buy two different kinds of curriculum. We want to get every activity done in BOTH SETS done over the course of the year. We also want to take several weeks off at a time to find out about bugs or octopi or whatever. Then we wonder why we're so far "behind" on everything. I can just imagine my children applying to college in about ten years and proudly informing the admissions officer that they've just completed the fifth grade curriculum and are ready for classes in September.


  1. You are hilarious! But yes, there has to be room for exploring. . Hey I went to college on an 8th grade education. I had no high school and pulled straight A's in college. It can be done. Maybe your kids arent as behind as you may think!

  2. What can I say? I have Ditz who is convinced anything above 5th grade is simply decoration.

  3. You know there ought to be a law about writing someone else's life story. Marissa applied for technical college and has to take an Accu-Placer. She told the admissions officer that I stopped teaching her math 2-years ago.

    Uh, it was last year. We had tried to do Algebra I three times, using three different company's curriculum. And, when I realized that she could move out in a year without knowing how to manage money, I just stopped. I bought a consumer math program instead. I have the book, really! We do the activities too.

    Oh, sure... they don't seem like math. We make menus and grocery shop and figure out the cost per meal. We window shop at the mall and check out the prices of those jeans she just has to have and calculate how many hours she has to work to earn them. Then we go to the Thrift stores and find a pair of designer jeans for $3. Oh, and most recently, she started making car payments and purchasing her own car insurance. Her car overheated and had to have an unplanned for repair. And, just tonight, she picked up a drywall screw in her back driver's side tire; another opportunity to learn about how to make ends meet.

    Most importantly, she finally told me, "Mom. I don't think I can move out when I am 18 unless I have a full time job."

    Gee... you think?

    But, I bet that college admissions officer is forming a pretty skewed idea about homeschooling. :o(

  4. I can so relate to this post! I'm finishing my 8th year of homeschooling and I've come to accept that it's an ever-evolving process of growing and changing. I've always been very laid back about how much we get done, but I'm starting to feel differently as my oldest son approaches high school (he's finishing 6th grade.. well he will one of these days).

  5. Mrs. D, I'm wondering how you did that (!!) and how you caught up. You're amazing!

    Ganeida, I tend to agree with you in that the basic reading, writing and math is pretty well down by about third grade. BUT could third graders go on to college seamlessly? The reading is a bit harder. :]

    Julie, don't you know that all homeschoolers are either spelling bee champs with IQs of 532 or they are left at home and not taught at all? Meh. If you have a learning disability, your level on certain tests is going to reflect that. G is "passing" all his classes, and yet is behind my 9 and 7 year olds in reading and only slightly ahead in math. Yet he will receive a diploma. That's pretty much the only reason he's in school. That and the fact that he follows the directions of others better than his Mom. It is not for academics, that's for sure.

    Someone would get a skewed view of public ed looking at G. But see, that critical eye is not there. Sigh.

  6. LAA, you've been homeschooling 8 years, but your son is finishing 6th grade? Oh! That means kindergarten... you did that, too. Wow.

    Hats off to you!

  7. As a teacher, I've been so impressed with the effort you put in to home schooling. I'm sure your kids are getting a really excellent education as well as learning how to think for themselves. Your kids are excited about learning, and that's one of the greatest gifts any teacher can give her students, even if the teacher is their mother!

    Expat 21

  8. Thanks, Expat! That was sweet of you to say.


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