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Meet Alison, a Canadian homeschooling mama of three, who uses a relaxed classical homeschool approach!
Tell us about you and your family.
I live with my family in southern Ontario, Canada. I married my best friend 14 years ago, and together we have three beautiful daughters ages 2, 5, & 8.
How long have you been homeschooling?
I’ve been homeschooling my children from the beginning, from birth really! Most children around here start school in Junior Kindergarten, so we’ve been homeschooling 5 years.
Tell us about your relaxed classical approach.
I view homeschooling primarily as a means of discipleship. My homeschooling approach tends towards a relaxed classical style. Above all, I want my children to be steeped in that which is true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). We don’t use grade levels, and progress at our own rate, not necessarily in step with our public school peers.
Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?
We definitely embrace year round homeschooling! I love that we can do our own thing and aren’t tied to any fixed schedule. It’s what allows us to capitalize on the “relaxed” aspect of our “relaxed classical” homeschool.
Tell us about your relaxed classical homeschool routine.
We start most of our days with morning chores, followed by breakfast with Bible reading. Our usual routine looks a bit like this:
We’ve done a Morning Time from the beginning of our homeschool. During this time we sing and dance with the toddler, read aloud, do our daily devotional reading and hymn singing. We pray together and then move to the table for Bible study, art or music appreciation and memory work.
After Morning Time, my girls take turns playing with the toddler and working with mom at the table. Neither of my learners are very independent at this point, so we work side by side. We do our skill work at this time (spelling, writing, math, grammar). We usually spend about 2 hours max. each morning between Morning Time and bookwork.
Free Time until lunch, then more read aloud time, and finally quiet time for 1-2 hours.
After quiet time we do our content subjects (science & history), a hands on project, or art for about an hour.
I’m not a big scheduler or planner, and I don’t schedule different subject for particular days of the week, I just try to keep moving consistently through our materials. I call my homeschool planning system “do the next thing”. We do alternate blocks of music appreciation and art appreciation in our Morning Time, but pretty much everything else is covered throughout the year.
Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…
The dinning room table. And the couch.
What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
All the time that I don’t spend mapping out the specific details of our homeschool in a day in a planner or creating daily lesson plans, I do spend in choosing our resources and mapping out the big picture! I’m pretty set in my curriculum choices and have been pleased overall with how they are working out for us. These are our resources for next year:
- First Grade: Handwriting Without Tears, Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, First Language Lessons Level 1. If and when reading fluency is reached, I will add Writing With Ease Level 1.
- Fourth Grade: Handwriting Without Tears, First Language Lessons Level 4, Writing With Ease Level 3 & All About Spelling Level 4.
- First Grade: Math U See (Alpha)
- Fourth Grade: Math U See (Gamma & Delta)
- Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics (Young Explorer Series). I bought the Notebooking Journal for my fourth grader, my first grader will just be listening in and participating when able.
- Nature study & notebooks
- Story of the World Volume 3 Early Modern & Volume 4 Modern. Notebooking and timeline for my fourth grader, narrations only for my first grader.
- Song School Latin Level 1
- Something for French. Hopefully at our co-op. And Duolingo for the fourth grader.
Art & Music Appreciation:
- Usborne Famous Paintings Cards, paired with some other resources using my own lesson plans.
- SQUILT Volume 2 (Classical Era) & 3 (Romantic Era).
- Artachieve, Art for Kids Hub, and other online art resources for fourth grade
- Home Art Studio for first grade.
- Grapevine Bible Studies
List 3 books about homeschooling that have really impacted you.
- For the Children’s Sake
- The Well Trained Mind
- Educating the Wholehearted Child
Your family is going on an unplanned trip, not much time to pack, and you must homeschool the kids while traveling. You can only take 5 of your homeschooling resources/books with you. What would you take?
This would have to be a pretty long trip if I were going to consider homeschooling while traveling! I can hardly fathom wanting or needing to take our homeschooling on the road, but if I did I would bring:
- My iPad. I’m definitely a paper and book kind of gal, but I’ve bought much of our curriculum as pdf & e-books and store them in my google drive so I could do a little of everything with it! I’d also have access to all our audiobooks and library Overdrive & Hoopla subscriptions so we’d be all set!
- Math workbooks.
- My reading glasses. I can’t read at all without them!
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?
Not a whole lot actually. I mean, we have had a few curriculum choices that have not panned out very well for us, but when that happens, I just chalk it up to experience and chose differently next time. I do think however, that if I had had the knowledge and experience that I have now back then, I would have worried a bit less. Overall though, I have few regrets over the choices that we made. How I’ll feel in 10 or 15 years from now? We shall see!
Alison is a Canadian homeschooling mama to three sweet girls. She views homeschooling through the lens of discipleship, education as a lifelong endeavor, and is thankful that she can begin each day anew by the grace of God. She writes about homeschooling, faith, and family life over at her blog, Learning Mama.