Home Education: School-at-Home

Courtesy of: Let’s take a look at another approach to homeschooling.  Doing “school-at-home” is what many people picture when they hear the word homeschooling.  Some of the characteristics of school-at-home include:

  •  children gathered around the kitchen table or at desks in a specified "school room" in the home with a parent instructor
  •  generally one of the more expensive ways of homeschooling due to buying large amounts of curriculum sets which typically include textbooks, study schedules, grading requirements, and record keeping guides
  • generally one the most difficult ways to homeschool due to trying to follow the set curriculum with multiple ages
  •  typically very easy for first time homeschooling parent because most of the planning is done
  •  this type of homeschooling will require the teacher/parent to do a lot of preparation work for each lesson

I would like to give you a little glimpse into one homeschool journey.  This family uses an altered version of school-at-home:

1.  What would you state is your homeschooling style and why?

I was a public school teacher, so I basically do public school at home.  We use a public school curriculum (McGraw Hill), but move at a faster pace, school year round, and include extra subjects, like Rosetta Stone Spanish. Plus, I like the fact that this curriculum teaches all three types of learners.  If I ever have to put my son in public school, I want him to be familiar with the teaching style.

2.  What does an average school day look like for you?

My son has a sleep disorder, so we don't do school at a certain time each day, but we do follow a set routine.  First, we have calendar time, where we review the day of the week, date, month, year, tell time, count money, graph the weather type and temperature, and review place value. Second, we do math.  We use manipulatives to explore the new skill and then he learns to express the concept with numbers and symbols.  There is an emphasis on word problems and choosing the operation. Third is reading.  I read a book to him that focuses on a concept we've been studying or a holiday that is approaching.  This book is above his grade level.  After we discuss it, he reads aloud from a separate reader.  Reading is concluded with learning a new skill, discussing it, reading selections that emphasize the new skill, and completing a few worksheets on the skill. Fourth, he writes about a topic.  It either has something to do with what we read, focuses on a skill, or is a journal topic of his choosing.  There is an emphasis on spelling and handwriting, as well as quality of expression.  These writings are usually illustrated, but not always. Fifth, we either do health, science, or social studies.  We rotate through these subjects doing a unit from each one.  This time may consist of an experiment, an observation, a reading selection, a discussion, or any combination of the above.  Often worksheets are completed to demonstrate leaning. We close with Spanish, art, or music.  Spanish occurs more often than the other two.  Spanish is a Rosetta Stone done on the computer.  Art is a holiday craft or a lesson on an art concept, followed by an art project during which he can experiment with the learned concept.  Music began with a study of instruments in which we read about an instrument, listened to works emphasizing the instrument, watched YouTube videos of people playing the instruments, and wrote about it.  Having completed all the instruments, he is preparing to learn to read music and play the piano and guitar. Gym is done two or three times a week.  He gets a lot of activity as a normal part of his play, but we like to try to focus on a skill as often as possible.  He takes gymnastics, is getting ready to begin ballroom dancing, practices golf and fishing with his father, is working on new swimming skills with me, and has a trampoline, a bike, a scooter, and playground equipment.  We often take walks with friends. Socialization is also very important.  We get together with other kids approximately three times a week, more often in the nice weather.  We are members of a homeschool support group and a mommy and me play group.  We have park play dates, gatherings at our homes, potluck luncheons, restaurant dining experiences, group field trips, and much more.  He has interaction with adults and kids of all ages and backgrounds because that is what real life socialization is like. We school year round and are generally “on” for three weeks and “off” for one.  This provides him with plenty of down time, but doesn’t involve any breaks long enough to allow forgetting to occur. 

3.  What resources do you utilize outside of your home for educational purposes? 

I believe that learning should be reinforced with real-life experience whenever possible.  We utilize all area resources.  We took trips to Natural Bridge and the beach after our unit on rocks, weathering, and erosion.  We traveled to Safari Park and Natural Bridge Zoo after our unit on animals.  We observed in the Emerald Isle Aquarium after completing a unit on ocean life.  We visited the White House, Capitol Building, and D.C museums after our units on government and prehistoric times.  We took a hike on a tree trail after our unit on plants.  We toured a cabinet factory to conclude an economics unit on goods and services. We are members of two different co-ops.  We take field trips with them.  They know us by name at the library. 


Visit Jessica's previous homeschool posts: Home Education: Deciphering the Information

Home Education: Relaxed or Eclectic

Home Education: Relaxed or Eclectic

Courtesy of: The most common approach that I found among homeschoolers was an eclectic approach.  This was comprised of families using unit studies, boxed curriculum, various workbooks, hands on learning, audio/video materials, computer based learning, and resources from outside the home.  Some characteristics include:

  • one of the most common forms of homeschooling 
  • families mix different styles and philosophies to choose a variation that works for them
  • student's interests typically are focused on, as well as the parent's teaching style
  • the way of schooling is forever evolving to fit the family's needs

Here is a small glimpse into the life of one eclectic homeschooler:

1.  What would you declare is your style or philosophy of home education and why?

More Eclectic than anything else. We tried a homeschool school, but it was very tedious.  I discovered very quickly that trying to have school at home wasn’t going to work.  I started using the curriculum I’d already paid for to teach my children myself, but I had to tweak it to death.  When it was time to do a new year, I decided that, if I had to tweak a prepared curriculum that cost so much, I could buy a textbook for less than $20 and tweak that.  Then, we could use the extra money for things like athletics and field trips.

2.  What does an average day of schooling/unschooling look like in your home?

We usually get up around 8:00am, though I sometimes get lucky.  We get ready for the day – breakfast, getting dressed, etc. – and then my daughters (aged 6 and 8) play for a bit.  We start school with pledges to the American and Christian flags, a short devotional, and prayer.  We study science, reading, spelling and vocabulary for around 1.5 hours in the morning.  We break 2 hours or more for lunch, then study grammar, math, and history.  Followed by a walk a couple times of week, if they don’t have anything else (sports, gym class) going on.  That usually takes around 1.5 hours.  Fridays, we break things up with journaling, art projects, field trips.

Our ‘classroom’ is the living room.  My daughters are just a year apart in school, so it’s easier on me to sit between them on the sofa, switching between them to instruct them.

3.  Have you ever used a different philosophy or homeschool style in your journey?

I tried video homeschool when I first started out.  My kids were bored out of their minds.

4.  Why did you change styles?

I realized that my daughters were bored and were starting to hate school, so I chose to start teaching the material myself.  When I did that, it hit me that the material was boring to them, I started trying to make things more interesting for them.  Looking around the internet, I realized that teaching from textbook curriculum would be no more difficult than what I had been doing, and that it made much more sense economically.

5.  What resources do you utilize outside of your home for educational purposes?  (ie:  museums, programs, co-ops, cottage schools)

We belong to a homeschool group that organizes field trips, parties, etc. , and it provides an opportunity to hang out with other kids their age.  We also use the library, museums, farms, stores, etc., for field trips.


Home Education: Deciphering the Information

As this school year ends, and summer begins; many families are reevaluating their educational plans for next fall.  There is a tremendous growing trend of families choosing to homeschool their children.  There are many reasons as to why these families are choosing this option.  These reasons are not really for me to assume or even discuss.  What I would like to discuss is the ever-growing amount of resources and options for these families.


This is a topic that is very important to me at this point in mothering.  My oldest child is just entering the preschool age.  With our current trends in education, the topic of schooling has to begin very early.  For most of us, we begin our search for the where and how of education around age 2 to 3.  This is an even earlier endeavor for those of you in large metropolitan areas that have very competitive preschools and schools.  My goal for me and my family is to find the best educational option that best suits us for the stage of life that we are in.  As homeschooling has quickly risen to the top of my list, I would like to begin to narrow the sea of information.  I’m sure that many of you feel the same.

Through a short series of blog posts, I would like to take you on a journey through homeschooling.  This journey will encompass a brief overview of different pedagological philosophies, resources for finding more information about these differing schools of thought, resources for curriculum, resources on state homeschooling laws, personal homeschooling journeys, as well as favorite resources of families who have “been there, done that.”  Please join me as we learn the different options that are available.

My hope is that this will help people begin this life of homeschooling armed with information to help them to be successful from the beginning.  If you are currently homeschooling, my hope is that you may find something that makes this path even more beneficial to your family.  If you have no desire or interest in homeschooling, my hope is that this information will encourage you to be even more supportive of those homeschooling families in your community.

As this will be an ever expanding topic, please feel free to comment with your experiences; as well as links to your blogs concerning your homeschooling journey.