let's talk home-education talk # 2

This is a bit of a long post and pictures are scenes from last year.


A typical day for us varies but generally we get rolling with our day after breakfast.  The first thing on the list is chores. This is a really important part of learning for me because it deals with individual contributions to the family as a whole. Everything flows much smoother when tasks are delegated and shared. The boys are responsible to unload/load the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen.  Then they feed the dog, take him outside to do his business and clean up after him. Everyone is responsible to make their own beds and get dressed, the latter of all the chores being the most difficult. I guess when you don't have to leave home, what's the point of getting out of your pajamas.

pajama boy

Before you continue, you should be aware that not everyday actually
works out the way I described, it is merely a guideline.  We keep most of scheduled work Monday to Thursday with Fridays being a free creative expression day meaning the kids can take the whole day to explore their artistic side. I've had to adjust how I home-educating since the girls joined the schedule (I'll use schedule for lack of a better word but it should be noted that I mean it in the loosest of terms). It's been challenging trying to meet the demands of all the children and so I've compromised some of my expectations to allow for the girls to be incorporated. One of the areas that I am speaking of is with my older boys. This year they work more independently than in the past, specifically in the arenas of Math and English, which are broken into two - 40 minutes sessions with a 15 minute break in between. During this time I am available for clarification should any problems arise.


While the boys work at their own pace, I am spending my time with Miss A & Miss J. Our time incorporates oral instruction, printed materials, phonics and reading. In my experience, the younger years require the most hands on involvement for both parent & child as everything is new and the building blocks of future learning are being established. Also, because younger children have shorter attention spans more varied activities help to keep things flowing smoothly. I usually have a few things planned for my time with the girls but it's not a big deal if we get through it all. There is always the next day. 


At around 11:30 am I send encourage the kids to go outside to run around and let off some steam.  I usually need a break by this point. By noon, we are tackling the lunch issue (that's a post in itself) and once everything is eaten & cleaned up we are ready for the afternoon. The boys have been taking piano instruction for quite a few years now so they practice in the afternoon following with 45 minutes to 1 hour of reading time. Twice a week they will read a science, history or geography book, the other times they read a book of their choice.  

bird studies

When I have something specific that I want to teach (science, history, geography social studies) we take some time in the afternoon.  But really and this is where the un-schooling comes in, I see my role as more of a facilitator that oversees and guides their interests. Last year for example, the B-meister spent a great deal of time (a few months) studying the Canada Goose both in theory (books) and in practicum (sitting in our backyard watching them). He likes to tackle his projects one at a time and his methodology is a combination of theory and observation. My role in this situation was to support his interests with books and even the gift of time for those afternoons when he would sit outside and quietly watch "his" geese. When he was ready, he compiled his data: drew a picture of a goose, labeled the diagram, wrote up a few facts, things he observed and for creative writing he wrote a short story on the Canada Goose.

goose boy

My eldest son the J-man works entirely different. He loves knowledge and the more he can learn about any given subject the better. He is constantly reading and will easily pick up a book on Geography just to learn something. He absorbs information quickly and has a reader's vocabulary, meaning extensive.

short story

To facilitate the interest learning, weekly trips to the library are a hugely important part of our education supplies. Bi-weekly we drop in and load up on the books and yes indeed, I always have late fees.   


We also enhance our learning through video. We don't have cable but we do own or rent appropriate videos that aide in the learning process. I can't say enough good things about the BBC natural history collection.  It is the best investment that we have made and by far the favorite of all DVDs in our home. My kids will watch a segment a couple of times a week. Other popular DVDs are CG kids which covers the Canadian provinces and cities (geography). The internet while scary at times, is also a great tool for learning. Make sure you put your child friendly filters on and supervise the Google searching. Field trips round out our time with visits to museums, etc. 


The point about education for me is that my kids cultivate a love of learning. I have no interest in duplicating a school, if that were the case I would just send my kids there. I'm sure there are rooms for improvement in our methods and some things we do better than other things but most importantly we are learning. 

I think I'll stop there for today and maybe next talk I'll compile a list of websites I use as resources.


  1. that robins photo is AMAZING!
    thanks for sharing your schedule right at a time when I needed to shame my oldest with "look what B and J do for school, why are you fighting me all day long to do one expectation?" what's this... they unload the dishwasher? hmmm. i wonder if they complain that they "always have to unload the dishwasher"
    argh. yesterday was a sweet cooperative day... today-not so much. Sol has been sitting sulking looking at his math book for going on 3 hours. (it is a days of the week page, EASYily a 5 minute job for him. grrrrr.
    talk me down from this looking into public school in ontario moment....
    :) miss you.

  2. Your photography is incredible. You need to do an info session on how to take good pics or what settings you use.
    I totally envy homeschoolers...I often think that my oldest would benefit from it, as he is an information sponge and I am a firm believer in experiential education and hands on learning. But we clash big time when I help him with homework so I wonder if it would ever work. ;-)
    We, too, make weekly and sometimes bi-weekly trips to the library. I often feel badly because I get fines (why should I get fines when we go so often?) but then I realize it's a drop in the bucket compared to the massive information and entertainment we get each week. $10 a month really isn't that bad. It's those silly dvd's they ding you for being late each day.

  3. You are a parenting inspiration Tam...I aim to be as good a mom as you.
    ps we should come for a playdate one day soon.

  4. A lovely natural way to homeschool! Great pictures of your boys busy learning.
    Have you ever thought of becoming a photographer? You have natural talent!
    Did you check out Teaching Textbooks for math? Dana loves it, and has done the first 2 units already!

  5. Oh no, bad homeschooling days are so frustrating.  Your boys are pretty young and probably still getting used to routine.  Hang in there.  Oh did I mention in my post that I still have to remind the 9 year old about his chores...all day...he never remembers.  Yeah, I dont think I did mention that, but now you know. 
    thanks about the Robin photo.  Miss you too!

  6. Ill have to add that photo info session to the list but first Ill have to figure out what I do beyond click like mad.  You would probably do wonderfully at homeschooling.  Im sure clashing at homework has more to do with kids being frustrated with even having homework...but thats a whole other post ;)
    I hear you on late fees and those DVD;s, our library just raised the DVD rental to $ 2 !!  It used to be $ 1.10.  I mean really, did it need to go that high?? now I can never return it late or I might as well own it!

  7. thanks Maggie, you are so sweet and you dont have to aim, you are already a fantastic mum!  yes, a play date would be a good thing.

  8. Yes, photography would be a lovely career but then Im afraid Id want to go to exotic places like Africa or India to take photos...which would make homeschooling kind of difficult.  lol. 
    Paul and I have looked over the teaching textbooks and are uber-pleased with them.  We were going to order them for next fall and I just printed off placement tests for the boys to see where they place.  They seem so comprehensive and cool!

  9. Acredito que você fez uma boa escolha em dar aulas na sua casa. E você teve uma educação regular?
    E a parte espiritual como você conduz?

  10. Just had to leave a comment to let you know how much I loved this post! This is our first year homeschooling and we just LOVE it! BUT ... it can be a little scary at times. Love what you said about just developing a love of learning. For me that's what it's all about too. Looking forward to seeing some of the internet sites you use!

  11. Can my kids come to your school/home? Even though my kids go to public school, and I'm a public school teacher, I still think this is the ideal way to learn. If I could have a classroom of about 12 - 15 kids and teach like this, I would be in heaven. Sigh.
    You are a wise and sensitive parent and doing a fantastic job with your little bunch.

  12. agradeça-lhe e sim que eu tinha uma educação de escola regular. Não entendi bastante a parte última da pergunta sobre o espiritual. Queria saber se você pode clarificar?

  13. Hi Maria, 
    Thanks so much for writing and Im so glad you are giving homeschooling a go.  It is both fun and scary at times...but rocket science it is not ;)  Yes, a love of learning is the key.  Ill try to get some of those links up shortly.  stay tuned.

  14. Thanks Monica.  Good to know and encouraging that a public school teacher advocates the home education process.  You teachers work very hard with your teacher-student ratio - you are all angels...except for Mr. *** ...he made my grade 10 year hell ;)


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