Tag Archives: what do homeschoolers do all day

We’ve entered a new era in homeschooling

It’s been a good long while since I wrote a This Week In Homeschooling post, and that’s because this semester the kids have more outsourced work than ever before. We joined a new co-op that’s much more academically focused than the one we’ve been doing for years. We’re still doing math, history, spelling and some science at home, and between the new co-op and the classes Poppy was already taking downtown a good bit of our school time at home is dedicated to doing homework.

Here are a few highlights from the week:


The kids had their final Odyssey of the Mind meeting before the regional competition. I think they’re both kind of relieved that they’re nearing the finish line. We listened to our “Story of the World” chapter on the way to and from the meeting. We learned about Pedro II, who was the second and last emperor of Brazil and seems like a pretty good leader.


Poppy’s OM team came over for a few hours to practice some spontaneous problems and run through their script a few more times.


Poppy went off to her classes downtown while a sickly Pete convalesced in his room all day.


Thursday is New Co-op Day. Poppy’s literature class is reading “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she learned a little about Elvis in History of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and she discussed India in world geography (which I’m teaching). Pete’s reading “The Boxcar Children” for literature, and he played soccer in Sports & Games, learned about Venus in astronomy and took apart a computer tower in his technology class.


Poppy had a piano lesson earlier today, and Pete had a session with his spelling tutor. We learned about The Pantanal via a very short history project, and the kids did some homework. And then we ended the school day early because it’s beautiful outside and they wanted to go enjoy it.

We used one of those origami fortune-teller gizmos to learn about animals that live in The Pantanal.

Want to peek into some other homeschoolers’ lives? Check out the weekly roundup at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

The children take a virtual trip to Pearl Harbor

We crushed this can last week using the power of science. Because Pete was studying air pressure.
We crushed this can last week using the power of science. Because Pete was studying air pressure.
We’re getting tantalizingly close to our Christmas break, so of course now is the time I’ve decided to crack down on the rampant morning electronic distractions. Pete has been diving directly into Metroid on the WiiU when he wakes up in the morning, and Poppy has developed a mild obsession with some Australian dude who opens packs of Pokemon cards on YouTube, and both of those things have been making it difficult for the kids to get started on their schoolwork in the mornings. So on Monday night I gathered up the WiiU controller and the iPad, and I changed the password on the computer.

I went to bed expecting a mutiny on Tuesday morning, but so far as I can tell neither of them even noticed the stuff was gone. (Although they certainly will now, because Poppy reads all of my posts. Hi Poppy!) They’ve been more pleasant about getting their schoolwork done, and they’ve been getting along with one another unusually well. I think we’re going to stick with the electronics-free morning routine.

At Pete’s request, we started reading “The Hobbit” for our family read-aloud this week. He’s listened to it 1,000 times as an audiobook, but I don’t think Poppy has ever listened to the whole thing. The opening pages have piqued her interest. Here are some other highlights of our week:


Poppy had finished 75 percent of her schoolwork by 11am, and Pete spent most of his day working with his Odyssey of the Mind team. It was a weirdly hands-off day for me.


This was our first electronics-free morning, and I was shocked that the kids didn’t even ask where the iPad or Wii controller were. I was far less shocked that our morning went much more smoothly than mornings past. The kids got most of their work done before 10am, when we headed out to a meeting. Pete met with his spelling tutor and Poppy had a piano lesson after that, and then the afternoon was full of tae kwon do, followed by writing homework and science reading.


Poppy spent the majority of the morning at her Wednesday classes, while Pete and I went to chess class and got out allergy shots. Once we got home, we took a short break before the kids settled in to watch a virtual field trip about Pearl Harbor that was produced by WYES in New Orleans. It was a very informative program, and the online polls they included kept the kids engaged.

Watching the WYES Pearl Harbor virtual field trip.
Watching the WYES Pearl Harbor virtual field trip.

The kids went back to building a cat village in the basement after the virtual field trip, and after that they both tackled their math lessons.


Thursday was our only “normal” day this week, which I guess means that staying home and doing schoolwork is no longer our normal.


Poppy is doing the first part of her tae kwon do testing this evening, so we’re going to take it pretty easy today. So far, the day has been dedicated to cleaning. Specifically, the kids are helping one another clean their rooms while I sit in the floor and read “The Hobbit” to them. I’m getting the good end of this deal.

In future-schooling news, I’m signed up to teach a geography class to a group of middle-schoolers in the spring. I’m looking for some exciting materials for that, so please let me know if you have some wonderful ideas or sources!

Want to peek into some other homeschoolers’ lives? Check out the weekly roundup at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

How to start homeschooling

The idea of taking full responsibility for your child’s education can be a little overwhelming. (That may be an understatement.) I had plenty of time to research state law and different homeschooling philosophies before we started homeschooling, since it was in our family plan for a few years before Poppy and Pete were even on the scene. So I figured I’d share a little of what I gleaned in that initial research and what I’ve learned since.

So here’s what you need to do to start homeschooling:
1. Learn about the legalities of homeschooling in your state.
2. Figure out how you want to approach homeschooling in your house.
3. Jump in.

The first step is simple. The second is going to take a little more thought and effort, but there are a lot of resources out there to help you figure it out. And of course the third step takes a deep breathe and a good deal of faith. I hope some of this is helpful whether you’re starting your homeschool adventure in pre-school or considering a fresh start with your eighth-grader.

Homeschooling regulations

We are U.S.-based, so my experience is entirely from an American perspective. Homeschooling has been legal in the United States since 1993, but some states are more restrictive than others. In North Dakota, for example, kids with low scores on standardized tests can be required to undergo a professional assessment, and in New York parents have to submit a detailed instruction plan at the beginning of the year as well as quarterly reports throughout. Meanwhile, states such as Idaho and Texas don’t even require you to tell anyone that you’re planning to homeschool.

Our state falls somewhere around moderate in terms of its homeschool regulations. We are required to notify the state department of non-public education that we intend to homeschool, and they recommend keeping a record of attendance and curriculum. The kids are also required to take a standardized test every year, which we can administer at home. The state does not require us to submit any of that information to their department, though, which would seem to me to defeat the purpose of requiring it.

For info on homeschooling in your state, check out:

  • Propublica.org’s great graphic of Homeschooling Regulations by State. It includes info such as how frequently you need to tell your state that you’re homeschooling; whether there are any subjects you’re required to teach in your state; and whether you’re required to vaccinate your children.
  • The Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s page of homeschooling laws by state.
  • Homeschool curriculum choices

    There are at least 10,000 approaches to homeschooling, from “unschooling” to online schooling. Despite having planned to homeschool the kids for so long, I was nervous about whether or not I’d actually be able to do it when we started. So I bought a “curriculum in a box,” which gave me everything Poppy and I needed for kindergarten. Almost every step of every lesson had an accompanying script, which took a lot of the worry out of it for me for awhile. By the end of the year, though, I was ready for something outside of the box. So I started looking into other methods of homeschooling. I found that there are a ton of ways to go about teaching your kids at home. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel today, so I’m going to point you to The Pioneer Woman for a good breakdown of some of the more prominent methods.

    We don’t follow any particular methodology these days; we just do what works for the kids and their learning styles. That puts us in the category of Eclectic Homeschoolers, which means we take a little of this and a little of that from pretty much any approach to learning. In our house, that means our history studies follow a Classical approach, our math is more of a traditional classroom curriculum and our literature study wanders between classroom work and unschooling. I really like the eclectic approach because it frees us to find what works best for each child.

    Jump in

    I will stand next to the pool for an hour before I actually jump in, which means I am wildly unqualified to tell you how to Jump In to homeschooling. But know that you can do this, even if you have to dip your toe in by, say, trying it during the summer or something to ease yourself into it.

    Do you have any questions about homeschooling? Let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer!