A Day In the Life #1: The Jones Family

I am pleased to announce our first Day In The Life series post!!! If you would like to participate, send your answers to the questions below to us and include some pictures if you are willing to share them. We are excited about showcasing the diversity of our community!

Without further ado: Here is how the Jones family homeschools!

The Jones Family
The Jones Family.

How did you decide to homeschool, and how long have you been at it?

I wanted to homeschool as soon as the concept caught my attention from my other “granola” friends after I had become a mom. Well, when does education begin? …my oldest is almost ten years old and he’s been learning at home his whole life.

How do you describe your homeschooling style, and how has it changed over the years?

It has changed a lot due to necessity and whatever I have been reading at the time! When my son was a toddler he had Asperger’s symptom tendencies and his left-brain was very hungry. We worked on puzzles, reading, Spanish, math and every conversation he could think to initiate–before he was even considered by our society “school age.” At age 4 or so I read the book The Core and was attracted to classical learning and squeezing as much into him at a young age as possible, which I proceeded to do!

But after a couple years things began to change. My approach drifted over to unschooling, due to exposure, the fact that he now had a younger sister he wanted to spend time playing with, and due to the fact that we treated his Asperger’s with diet and found his personality dramatically shifted. What was once anti-social and awkward with other children became very, very social, playful and creative. I was delighted to see him thinking of various ideas and leading his sister in imaginary play (which I had never seen him take part in before) and I dared not interrupt. They would explore outside and run inside asking if they could use the computer to research a particular creature they found–and I dared not interrupt! At one point he became insatiably interested in crocheting and would sit eagerly to crochet his own designs for hours on end–and I dared not interrupt! How could I ask my children to stop an activity they were passionate about and make them sit to do book work against their will?

Although these two are 3 years apart, they are the same level in language subjects. So it’s been nice to be able to be flexible and do math and history separately, but language we do more as a “class” (although sometimes the classroom is my bed!)

Hosting an exchange student is a great way to expose the kids to different languages and cultures!
Hosting an exchange student is a great way to expose the kids to different languages and cultures!

Although these two approaches seem completely at odds, years later I am still doing a mixture of both. On one hand I feel I was lucky to teach my son so much knowledge when he was younger so that we could “afford” to be casual, with him still testing in the 98th percentile. Or maybe I trained him to notice the world around him and to ask questions and seek answers, and now he’s just doing it independently? Training is really the wrong word–all I have ever done is notice what interests, needs, and aptitudes my children have and try to accommodate.

Currently we do partial Unschool and partial curriculum. I have books but I tend to “forget” about them when the kids are engaged in wholesome spontaneous play. (When I hear whining and arguing, I “remember”!) We do have a list of things that should be accomplished each day, such as piano, grooming, reading, science, math. Admittedly, piano is a priority and will not be “forgotten” since I always remember to pay the teacher 🙂 We go through seasons with certain projects when I am motivated (like I recently purchased the entire American Adventure series, and we’ve been pretty regular about reading aloud each evening). Other times we go through seasons of “real life apprenticeship” when my personal life gets quite busy and formal schooling is on the back burner indefinitely while my children serve or work alongside me, discussing life skills and religion topics as we go.

Do you have a typical day, week, or month? If so, what does it look like? If not, please elaborate!

No, as much as I try. I beat myself up for being inconsistent but then I reflect or write paragraphs such as the above, and feel ok with our random household.

What’s your biggest homeschooling challenge?

Schoolwork was beautiful and wonderful once. Then my baby (the third child) became a toddler. He is very unpredictable. He won’t play alone. He has never had any predictable sleeping patterns. He is very physical and will climb on me or make demands while I am teaching. We’ve had trouble with sleeping disorder, verbal delay, and aggression (not to mention the normal messes a busy 3 year old makes). More often than not I simply give up. I don’t have a solution, although my brilliant homeschool friend suggested I “train him” (bless her heart).

What does your family like most about homeschooling?

Flexibility for both schedule and learning paces. Time available for other interests. Vacations at any time of the year for no other reason than that we feel like it!

What are your favorite Salem area resources?

The public library.

Please share a final thought or some words of wisdom for new homeschoolers.

I’ve heard from too many moms that they could never homeschool, it’s just too hard. I wonder of they have visions in their heads of running an organized home classroom with lectures and excessively planned activities. When they say to me “I don’t know how you do it!” I remind them that technically, all homeschooling means is that your child is not enrolled in school. You could do absolutely nothing if you wanted to (and they shouldn’t assume that I don’t!) but truly, formal education has only been around a brief time in the history of the world. Most scholars have taught themselves from books, conversations, and simply exposure to the world around them. Classrooms, workbooks, tests are only one way of learning (and a very inefficient way, in my opinion!) Don’t try to mimic a school in your house. Just read books and start the wheels turning, then be willing to supply a good road for them to travel on.

Homeschooling gives us time to vacation when we feel like it, away from the crowds!
Homeschooling gives us time to vacation when we feel like it, away from the crowds!