Ages of children: 5 kids, ranging in age from 3 to 12
Number of years homeschooling: 5 years I like to tell newbies to hang in there and not give up, because our first year was really difficult. Sure, we feel like old timers now, but it wasn’t always so easy.
Curricula: Our main curriculum is Time4Learning.com, but we supplement with Story of the World, Five in a Row, Visual Latin, Saxon Math, and a few others. I read The Well Trained Mind a few years ago and loved it, but I think it’s impractical for large families, simply because it takes too long. So I’d like to think I use the principles of The Well Trained Mind, but adapted to fit my family.
Everyone gets up at a different time around here, so I pull them all together around 9am and they all start to get dressed, make their beds, and eat breakfast, if they haven’t already. Each child has a small dry-erase board about the size of a sheet of paper. These are mounted to the fridge by the magnets on the back, and each lists the schoolwork and chores expected for the day. I have them divided into morning, afternoon, and evening, and I check at lunchtime to be sure the morning things have been done, and again at dinnertime for afternoon things, and bedtime for the evening ones. It may sound awfully regimented, but it really helps our lives run smoothly and stay organized. The kids enjoy crossing things off the list with the dry erase marker when they’ve accomplished the tasks.
We start each day with me reading a poem to all the kids, and a minute or two of discussion about it. Then they each do an entry in their daily writing journals, and then break up to do their own work from their lists. We have 2 computers for schoolwork, so sometimes we need to rotate everyone through to get their Time4Learning done. Time4Learning.com is an awesome online program for pre-K through 8th grade and includes all subjects – even an art program. It’s absolutely wonderful for busy moms, and the kids love the lessons, full of visually-engaging graphics and learning games.
We always do our Latin together over lunch at the huge table in the schoolroom, and then break up again to complete the afternoon activities from each child’s list. When their afternoon lists are done, the kids get free time until dinner. Several days of the week, our afternoons are busy with ballet classes, YMCA homeschool gym, Spanish class, Girl Scouts, etc. In the evenings, my husband does math with the kids after dinner, and reviews the Spanish lessons. It’s eclectic and a little crazy, but our system works for us, and of course that’s what the freedom of homeschooling is all about!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Needham is a nutrition educator and homeschooling mom to five kids using Time4Learning.com. You can read her blog with free nutrition lessons for homeschoolers at http://nutritionforhealthykids.blogspot.com/