Learn about Jenny White’s first year of homeschool and see what is she planning for the next one!
1 – Briefly tell us about you and your family.
My husband (of 13 years) and I live in Tennessee with our three children ages 8, 10, and 11.
2 – How long have you been homeschooling?
We just completed our first year of homeschooling!
3- Tell us about your homeschooling approach.
Although I’ve always been drawn to a Classical style education due to its rigor and depth, my heart deeply resonated with Charlotte Mason when I came across her philosophy and style. We are very much a Charlotte Mason family (though we do have our weak areas).
4 – Year-around homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?
This being our first year homeschooling, we followed a more traditional school calendar (Aug-May). However, I can tell the experience has changed my children because they are telling me things they want to do and learn this summer (cooking, more art, etc).
5 – Tell us about your first year of homeschool routine.
When I first began my research into homeschooling, I found Simply Charlotte Mason’s sample schedules. Using that as my guide, I built our homeschool day. Then, I found Julie Bogart on Periscope and began watching her. After watching her scope about a Morning Routine, I changed up our day a bit, so this is basically how most of our days progress (J, B, & L are my kids):
This is a schedule that developed after our 1st semester which seemed to drag on and on and somewhat fizzled out by Christmas. I did a lot of thinking and praying during the break and revamped my plan. We schooled for six weeks and then took a long (4) day weekend before starting the next six weeks. Some take a full week off between terms, but I found my kids very difficult to get back on task. Taking a long weekend allowed us to drop a day here or there during the next six weeks and still be where we needed to be.
On bare minimum days, we do math and reading.
6 – Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly…
In our basement. We are currently renting a home with a huge walk-out basement that is very bright and has so much room. We are truly blessed to have the space for that. However, we occasionally migrate upstairs for art projects and when we need a change.
7 – What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
I’m still combing through a few things and trying to decide, but I think I’ve mostly nailed down things. My 3rd Grader (8 yr old) and 4th Grader (10 yr old) will share much of the curriculum. We plan to use:
- Spelling: Simply Charlotte Mason Spelling Wisdom (for dictation work )
- Grammar: Michael Clay Thompson’s MCT Language Arts. I love this curriculum and think it will pair nicely with a Charlotte Mason education.
- Reading: 2-4 Units from The Arrow by Bravewriter; Reading Journal from Not Consumed
- Writing: Jot it Down by Bravewriter and various projects throughout the year
- Math: CTC Math or CLE Light Units 1 & 2 and then judge if we want to continue
- Science: Masterbooks Zoology study (which I’m secretly excited about)
- History: We used Beautiful Feet Early American History this year and I hope to continue it (since we didn’t finish), but I may add a unit or two from Homeschool in the Woods
- Music: SQUILT plus Hoffman Academy piano lessons or Raising DaVinci’s Ukulele course.
- Foreign Language: DuoLingo (free)
- Typing: Typing.com
- Exploring Nature With Children: from Raising Little Shoots
- Bible: Girl of Beauty (and Boyhood and Beyond for my son) plus Picture Smart Bible–New Testament (we started it this year)
- Art: Famous Artists Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom; Simply Charlotte Mason Artist Study pack (LOVE); The Art of Fall: Mixed Media Workshop for Kids by Alisha Gratehouse or a class via Craftsy or creativelive.com
- P.E.: Fitivities fitness game
Whew! My son will do most of this as well; however, he may be joining a tutorial which requires specific curriculum (BJU Science; BJU English; and MathUSee).
8 – List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
Instead of books, I’m just going to say “resources” that have impacted me.
- The first person I ran into that had a significant impact on me was Julie Bogart of Bravewriter. Her live Periscopes rang true with me and taught me so much about homeschooling, how to relax, how to enjoy my children and the process. I can’t gush enough.
- Early on in our year, I read The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings and Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year by Laura Brodie. I can’t say that these books transformed me, but they did give me a glimpse into how our expectations can often ruin the experience for our children. I found myself often shaking my head at these moms, but I appreciated reading their stories.
- Lastly, I will have to say my homeschooling friend has impacted me. She has homeschooled for several years and offered tremendous insight into curriculum and schedules and all the other facets of a homeschool family. We can learn a lot from each other.
9 – Your family is going on an unplanned trip, not much time to pack, you must homeschool the kids while traveling and you can only take 5 of your homeschooling resources/books with you, what would you take?
Well, since math is my weakness, I’d have to grab the math book. 🙂 After that, I’d probably reach for a geography book, and then choose three great read-alouds. Great books are important to me, and I pretty much think that reading great books is just about the best way to get an education.
10 – If you had the chance to start homeschooling all over again today with the knowledge and experience you have now, what would you do differently?
I’d relax. I’d simplify. I’d cook more and do more art. I’d slow down and breathe deeply and just love my kids.
I need to breath more as well. And to slow down and not rush through things. And let Charlie help pick out items he would like to study. As we are not in Public School now and have to rush, rush rush.
As a first year homeschooler myself, this post encourages me. There is a lot to learn but I am so excited about teaching my children. My younger boys are not reading yet but I can see how they already enjoy story time and their hearts are already being set ablaze with a love of reading. Keeping it simple and fun is key to learning!
Isn’t it amazing how much your approach can change in just a few months, and how much you as a mother learn the first year? Staying calm is the key. We are finishing up our third year and I have to keep reminding myself to breathe, and simplify!
One thing I didn’t mention:
At the end of our 1st six weeks this semester, we held a “Presentation Night.” Grandparents joined us as the kids showed off what they had learned. They sang the songs we’d practiced, displayed a lot of their subject work, narrated what history they had learned, and read a story they had written. They really loved it! And it was good to show others what we’ve been doing…that YES, we have learned! We are about to do one more presentation to showcase the last 12 weeks of the school year. This one will feature a history video they made about Lewis and Clarke (in Breaking News fashion), geography, more history, math, and a few individual items. We plan to close the evening with a special Poetry Teatime using our newly purchased (awesome deal!) tea set. 🙂 Can’t wait!!
This is great! We are starting our first year of homeschool this yr. I can totally relate to this post, I am grateful for learning to stay calm and keep it simple. Thanks for the encouragement!
Domonick, you are so blessed to have community along side you on your first year of homeschooling! 😀 We are so here for you!
Thank you, Domonick! Wishing you all the best as you start your journey! I really stressed and turned into a fairly angry mom the 1st semester. Second semester improved tremendously because I tried to really keep a handle on my expectations and my emotions. 🙂
Jenny, I so agree with you “reading great books is just about the best way to get an education”.
When it comes to approches, I also like the Classical education idea and use two books from Classical Press for Language Arts but I feel much more comfortable and at home with a Charlotte Mason philosophy. I totally get how homeschoolers can be mostly eclectic because you can use a little bit of all the good things out there.
That is so true! I love the freedom to choose a bit from here and a bit from there to customize my child’s education.
Jenny, this is absolutely beautiful! And #10 – YES! Relax. Simplify. Somehow that’s the lesson I am STILL learning here at seven-going-on-eight years of homeschooling!! I also like your six-weeks-on-long-weekend-off routine. That sounds like something even Daddy could join in on (for us, at least)!
Thank you! Yes, changing up to the 6 on, 1 off schedule really helped us a lot. It seemed like the kids could visualize that amount of time. 🙂