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All About Homeschooling!

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three kids sitting at a table

It’s no secret that we are homeschooling our kids this year. It took us literally months to come to this decision. Actually, homeschooling never really made it onto our radar until the school schedules *weren’t* being announced in NYC and I got to thinking how overseeing my kids with their virtual school was basically a full time job last year…how was I going to manage three different kids at three different schools with three different in-person and virtual schedules? HARD PASS, thanks.

The last I heard, Brooke was going to be able to go to school in-person once every six school days. Blake would be 2-3 days a week, depending on the week, and Eddie’s preschool was still up in the air.

It was only after we decided to move back to Oregon that we started considering homeschool. After looking into our options here, it was announced soon after that Oregon public schools would be completely virtual until November at which point going back to the classroom would be reconsidered. Since Gordon was quitting his job anyways, he was the one to push for homeschooling since he had a bunch of time on his hands. We thought it made the most logical sense for him to do the majority of the homeschooling for our kids and I could work on the blog full time. (In New York, I had to contract out every job humanly possible because I only had about 10 hours a week to work between keeping the kids alive and Gordon’s work schedule. Gordon teaching the kids allows me the freedom to go back to doing the work myself.)

little boy with his hands in the air
Just a little excited about the first day of school.

So, after we made that decision for our family, we realized just how much freedom came with homeschooling. We can choose the curriculum, we can choose the schedule, we can go on vacation when we want to go on vacation, we can do whatever we want when we want to and we really liked that aspect.

I think it’s important to note that we don’t plan on homeschooling our kids forever. Once things normalize, we will most likely send our kids back to public school. We like public school, but don’t love these crazy in-person and virtual schedules. Navigating it feels nearly impossible for me.

What curriculum are we using?

I have gotten this question so many times over and over! We are doing a mix and match approach, pulling some subjects from one place and some from another. For the most part, we are using The Good and the Beautiful curriculum because it was recommended to us from some friends who have homeschooled for years. We are only using this for Language Arts, History, Science and a few extra curriculars like Typing, Chemistry (for Brooke) and Handwriting.

Math curriculum was probably the hardest thing to decide on, but after talking to my sister-in-law who is a 4th grade elementary school teacher (who has taught for years) recommended Eureka Math through Engage NY. This is the curriculum the New York public schools were using for our kids the past three years, so we were really familiar with it and bonus! All the lesson plans and worksheets for every grade are all free on the website. Knowing we won’t be homeschooling our kids for the long haul, we really wanted them to keep up with common core so they aren’t behind when they go back to school (**even though it can be confusing and annoying!) The Good and the Beautiful math does not use common core and that is the reason we purposely chose not to use it.

Gordon is implementing his own…curriculum…for PE. Haha!

girl posing with hand on her hip

Eddie is in a special circumstance because if he was in New York, he would be going to universal Pre-K. Trying to find curriculum for a little one in Pre-K has been challenging because he is a little advanced and is *really close* to reading. So the best things I found are these VersaTiles (highly recommend!) and Bob Books. The versa tiles he can do on his own, for the most part, and we are just making the time to read the Bob Books with him. This workbook has been really helpful too that he will do at the same time Blake works on his handwriting.

I’ve also found these math cubes and reading flash cards to be suuuper helpful too for Eddie. The math cubes come with little activity cards as well which I’ve found to be really great to pull out and use.

The VersaTiles were such a hit that Blake asked for some too! So, I got him some for math and some for literacy which have been a good supplement to do in addition to the work we’re already doing. I figure any practice for either of these subjects would only help, plus he loves independent work like this.

So although we are only going to try this for a school year or two, we have found what works for us and our family and are really happy with all the curriculum we have thus far!

Are you homeschooling? Do you have any tips for us? Would love to hear any kind of helpful hints from those veteran homeschooling parents! Thanks, friends!

boy smiling with hands in his pockets

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13 Responses
  1. Laurie

    Hi Lauren,

    I have been reading and enjoying your blog and recipes for years. I am not in your usual demographic, being a mother of four adults and I have three grandchildren. As a mother long associated with schools and an educator, and also having many family members as educators, I take great issue with one of the below comments:

    “Also, you don’t have to worry about teaching your kids to hate America.” I’m not sure why this sentiment has not been challenged by anyone. I know of no teacher who has that mission in mind going into teaching. I know of no parent who espouses that belief. Another comment she makes is that education is one size fits all. That is not a true statement either. This reader is not part of the educational system and has no basis to make these kind of erroneous statements.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. Doug

    My wife and I decided to homeschool this year because I’m pretty certain the school schedule will become an absolute mess. We’ve already seen some of it with our relatives (Hey, you’ve been exposed so you get 2 weeks virtual but your sister still has to show up).

    Luckily, our babysitter is in college, and her college has decided to do virtual classes . . . so we get a neuroscience major/education minor student to help teach our kids. At least until January when she heads off for her internship.

    I suspect that there are “city people” who could never understand wanting to live outside a major urban center, but I’m definitely of the “country people” variety. I need the home-grown tomatoes popping up in my yard, and the sound of coyotes and owls at night.

    Congratulations on your move, and I look forward to continuing to read your blog (and sharing it with my wife).

  3. Melissa

    Homeschool veteran of 10 years. My kids have always been Homeschooled, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I hope you guys fall so in love with it that you graduate them from your Homeschool! Find Sally Clarkson – amazing Mom who graduated 4 kids from her home. She will be a wonderful source of encouragement for you!

  4. Kassie

    LOVE Eureka math, and a great website is Zearn (free, and aligns with Eureka), I have taught 4th grade (6 years) and used Eureka the past 3 years, with Zearn, very helpful! Also, Lalilo is a great phonics resource for kiddos learning to read!

  5. Kassie

    LOVE Eureka math, and a great website is Zearn (free, and aligns with Eureka), I have taught 4th grade (6 years) and used Eureka the past 3 years, with Zearn, very helpful!

  6. Emilee

    Thanks for sharing what you’re using. I chose to do virtual school with my kids this year for consistency. Choosing curriculum is really freeing, but also hard. I guess it’s a good problem to have so many options these days!

    My 1st grader is done with school long before his older sisters are and so I need lots of things to entertain him. He loves Jack Hartmann videos to help reinforce concepts he’s learning (headphones are key here because I do not love Jack Hartmann videos). Khan Academy Kids is a free app for kids that has fun videos to help with math and reading. I also use it for brain breaks for him when he doesn’t want to do his ELA worksheets. Once he finishes a task he gets to watch 1 cute baby animal video on Khan Kids–they’re super short, but it motivates him. We also subscribed to Scholastic Learn at Home for him. It’s $5.99/month. He loved it when he did distance learning in Kindergarten and it’s something extra but still educational that he can do while I’m helping his sisters finish school.

    My kids also love Mystery Doug (YouTube), Mark Rober (YouTube), Emily’s Wonder Lab (Netflix), and we’ve been watching NatGeo documentaries on Disney+.

    1. Lauren

      Blake calls Jack Hartmann Jack Fartman. So, we don’t watch much of him anymore. Haha! We also did use Khan academy for a good portion of virtual learning last year.

  7. Priscilla Auten

    I’ve homeschooled for about 3 years. For TK and Kindergarten language arts we are using Explode The Code and Explode The Code online. For my daughter (5th grade) we’re using Institute for Excellence in Writing. We love homeschooling! Good luck to you all! 💛🌱

  8. Janet

    I am a retired homeschool mom. I started out 23 years ago when the school system had every day all day Kindergarten. I didn’t want to send my son away for that long. So I started thinking I will just do this for one year and then we moved. So I thought I would do it for another year and by the time I knew it both of my kids graduated from Highschool If I had to do it over again I wouldn’t take things so seriously and relax more and would not compare what other kids are doing. I would ditch the curriculum until they were older and concentrate on more “fun” hands-on learning. One book I wish I would have done more with is “Family Math” and “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” I loved the fact that we were able to be flexible with learning every kid learns differently and it’s so important to find what works. In school, it one size fits all and that does not work. Also, you don’t have to worry about teaching your kids to hate America. I also find that most homeschoolers even after they graduate love to learn in regular schools they kill the love of learning. I am glad you got out of NYC and moved to place where you can breathe and run and enjoy life. Also you might want to join HSLDA. It’s a legal mumble jumble for homeschoolers and they also have tips about learning. Good luck and enjoy the adventure it’s one of the best decisions we ever made.

  9. Kristen

    We’ve homeschooled for the past 7 years. I think the best advice I got was to enjoy it and don’t listen to everybody else! So many opinions on EVERYTHING, I found it to be too much. What works for my crew might not work for yours, so just have fun with it.

  10. Shelly

    If you ever decide to try a different math curr. “Teaching Textbooks” is a great program. It’s created by two homeschool brothers and we used it for our boys all the way up to Trig.