Real Life Homeschooling

Many people debate the definition of homeschool.  Is it school at home?  Is it school outside of a government building?  Is it school at all?  I, personally, prefer to call it lifeschool.  We learn as we live.  That learning takes place in the context of family, and we take advantage of opportunities, such as teaching preschool dance or taking a field trip on a whim, as they become available.  We keep a schedule to fit as much of it in as we can, but we are not dictated by an 8 to 4 school day.  Our choice of companions is not restricted to any one category.  We might have lunch with the elderly at my dad’s assisted living home.  We might meet a dozen kids of various ages at the park after co-op.  We might stop in to see a handicapped friend and bring her coffee.

New books are exciting. The new wears off quickly, though.

New books are exciting.
The new wears off quickly, though.

I lump plain old home in with homeschool because the two aren’t always very distinct around our house.  My daughters have daily chores.  I call that home economics.  We play games like Trouble, and they have to add the numbers on the dice.  Math in everyday life.  They have to write thank you notes for birthday gifts.  We have a lot of things wrapped up in that one – writing, language arts, handwriting.  We drive 500 miles to visit family.  Geography and history are knocked out because we often stop at a Civil War Memorial park for a break along the way.  We paint (art) and do puzzles (logic) and go to the park (PE) and argue about who put up the dishes last (debate).  We certainly use books for school, but I try to tie all that in with real life.

When my work schedule is crazy busy, and I don’t have the time to sit down with them to “do the school books”, then I look at the other things we do.  I try, but am not always successful, to not stress about finishing every last page of each workbook.  I am a list-checker.  They won’t fail an entire grade because we didn’t do the fifth review of contractions or double-digit multiplication, I tell myself.  Over.  And Over.  I’ve lived a good life without knowing much of anything about the Chinese dynasties.  It is possible to be a productive adult whether or not you know every river and land mass in the world.  I think all of these things are interesting and important, but not the standard by which anyone will be judged intelligent or successful.

We school almost year round.  We usually start a grade level in July because it is so stinking hot here that you can actually melt walking from the house to the car.  If we can’t be outside, let’s make the most of being inside.  My ultimate schedule is to school 9 weeks on and 1 week off.  That doesn’t always happen when family emergencies throw a few wrenches in our plans.  But for all our interruptions, we still usually finish our grade levels by the middle of May.  We take a couple of months off to regroup and then start again.  We still school during the time off, but in more of an unschooling way.  No workbooks, but more activities that we don’t get to do during our school schedule.  Lots of reading.  A few trips.  Some extra activities.  Life.

So, that’s our homeschool.  We’re a family first, and I keep telling my kids (and myself) that’s what is most important.

How do you define your homeschool?


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