Tuesday, February 22, 2011

to homeschool...or not to homeschool

One of the most common questions I fielded upon announcing my intention to quit my fulltime job was "so, are you going to homeschool now?" Initially I stuttered my way through a half answer and changed the subject as quickly as possible. (The other response I frequently received was "wow, I can't wait to see what you can accomplish now that you aren't working!" umm...no pressure there. ;) But that's a topic for another post.)

The truth is that I'm largely happy with the education that my children have received thus far. Elizabeth goes to an amazing arts-based charter that is tailored for her personality like nothing I could probably give her and Finn is thriving in his Montessori school. I have less input into the education that Paulie and Philip receive (not that they don't receive their fair share of after-schooling from me, just as Finn and Elizabeth do).

The more I thought about this question, however, the less clear my answer became. I am happy with the current state of their education, but next year will be Finn's last year of "preschool" before kindergarten. There are so many things I could give him, namely some Waldorf direction, in addition to providing him with some of his beloved Montessori works (and I'm lucky to have a friend that teaches Montessori to give me some pointers). Also, Elizabeth's last year of elementary school is coming quickly and we have no idea where to find a good fit for her for middle school. So, I think that for now I'll say undecided and utilize the kids' school breaks as a time to get my feet wet and see if homeschooling might be a good fit for us down the road.

Take this week for instance! I had my job quitting planned just right so I could be home for Finn's winter break this week. In late January, I entered a giveaway for a February daily childcare guide from Little Acorn Learning, a business I admired and a guide I already considered purchasing if I were to homeschool Finn next year. In a stroke of providence, I won the guide and decided to use it this week, with my own ideas sprinkled in liberally, of course, to see how Finn and I enjoyed the process.

So, without compromising the work that Eileen has done on her February guide, I'll tell you a little bit about what Finn and I have been up to, and will continue to work on, throughout this week. In the mornings after dropping Elizabeth off at school and straightening up the kitchen a bit, we're gathering around the fireplace to talk about seeds and read over our morning verse, Planting, and do a little fingerplay about seeds. We've also been reading one or two books about seeds and planting each day and talking a little bit about the life cycle of a seed.

On Monday, for our baking project, we decided to make "seed buns", essentially bread rolls with chocolate inside. We made our dough, let it rose, then before shaping our buns, put 3 small pieces of dark chocolate on them and buried it inside the dough like seeds in the earth. What an amazing tasty learning experience for little ones!

Finn couldn't stop talking about his seed buns so we took some to lunch at Paulie's and Philip's school and saved one for Elizabeth's after-school snack. They were a hit with everyone!

The other project we've worked so far with our seed theme is to grow mung bean sprouts. We're actually calling them mung "seeds" for the purposes of our learning this week. Mungs are so easy to sprout and make a fun quick-return-on-your-effort growing experiment.

Finn put a quarter cup of mung beans in a quart jar with about a half cup of water to cover them, after he gave them a good feel, of course. "They're so little and hard...just like seeds!" he observed.

He covered them tightly with a cloth and jar ring, and we set them in a cool, dark corner of the kitchen until bedtime.

After spending several minutes over the course of the day watching the beans, he thought they might not do anything. But in the evening, we poured the water off of the beans and rinsed them just in case.

This morning, we were treated with some little sprouts coming out of our mung "seeds"! We're still rinsing and letting them grow for another few days, then maybe we'll have them in a stir-fry or salad. What satisfaction to be growing our own sprouts!

So to answer the question about homeschooling, well, I think we're already homeschoolers, whether we adopt that title instead of going to school or not. Paul is convinced that I'll keep Finn at home next year since I enjoy learning with him so much. He's probably right, but for now, I'm just happy to enjoy the moments he's here, that all of them are here, and cherish every opportunity to learn together!


  1. I'm always so inspired by you, Joy. So happy for you and all of the new adventures, known and unknown, you are embarking upon with your children!

  2. It's something I wonder about too - whether to "officially" home school. I feel like we do a lot of that already. I don't know if it would feel differently if we started doing it as a matter of course. So much pressure!

  3. You are a supermom no matter what choice you make. There is no easy answer and no easy path. But you will do what's right for your littles, I have no doubt.

  4. You are such a great mom. I think that you're wise to keep an open mind. Whatever you choose to do, your kids are lucky to have the fun learning experiences that you're so good at providing for them.

  5. Can't wait to see what comes. Of course, I'm certain that your kids will get the best education they can--you are one very aware parent!

  6. How inspiring Joy! What a beautiful post, reading about your process and thoughts. I am so looking forward to what you decide, much love to you.

  7. I think these decisions are so personal - and made for such a huge variety of reasons. No one answer will suit everyone.
    I think you are very wise to not make too many changes all at once.

  8. Every family is different, there is no "one size fits all" educational solution.
    I think that the activities you are doing with Finn are beautiful!
    I'm very inspired by the seed bun idea. Something delicious and educational all at once! We'll be doing those I think :)

  9. What a fabulous week with Finn! I answered your question about our curriculum on my blog. I'll answer here too. It's Earthschooling by Kristie Karima Burns. I like it a lot. There is a ton of information included in the curriculum which I love. It's also a bit overwhelming but I have gotten in a good rhythm with it.

    How awesome you won the giveaway. A great way to try it out!


  10. Good luck with your decision. We recently went through the very same thing, as my 5-year-old was set to enter Kindy this coming fall. :)


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