This year brings a lot of change when it comes to schooling options!
More than ever before, Catholic families are considering the idea of homeschooling.
Whether your brand-new to homeschooling, or a pro by now, each year brings new challenges, new questions, and room for growth and new ideas.
One of the best ways to learn how to homeschool is by finding out how other homeschoolers are approaching it, and learning from them!
Today I’d love to answer some frequently asked questions about how we are doing homeschooling in our house this year, and hopefully it will spark some ideas for your own homeschool endeavors.
Every family is different, so I don’t expect your homeschool to look exactly like ours (or anything like it), but I hope these ideas give you a starting place to build your own curriculum and establish your own routines.
How are you homeschooling in 2020?
We’re finally settled into our homeschool year 2020!
We’ve been homeschooling all along, but no two years look exactly the same.
Every kiddo has different needs, different learning styles, and different personalities.
And every year that we add a new school-aged kiddo to the mix, the dynamic of our homeschool changes.
This year, I’m relying heavily on my teacher personality. We set up a one-room schoolhouse, and dedicated mornings to our formal schoolwork.
We still have a lot of flexibility!
But it’s helpful to our home family when I put on my teacher hat, and let my mom hat slide – so that things like dishes, laundry, phone, and blog work are put aside while I give my full time and attention to our academic endeavors.
What does your schoolroom look like?
Many homeschool families have more relaxed homeschool spaces than we do, and I think that’s great!
Personally, when I try to take the kitchen-table homeschool approach, I end up getting distracted from helping my kids by the various household chores calling my name.
We tried homeschool-on-couches one year, and it was a bit too relaxed for us. Lots of distraction and wiggling, not a lot of academic focus.
So this year, I’m drawing on my teacher-personality.
I set up a one-room-schoolhouse for our learning area.
I put on my teacher hat, and we go to our school room to start our formal academic work each day.
Each of my kiddos has a desk/table for their learning station, and I have a teacher desk for all my materials, too.
We even have a chalkboard set up on our easel for when the kiddos need to change position to help them think better.
I’m not strict about staying in our school room to do school, though.
Any kiddo who needs quiet to be able to focus, or wants to take their work to a different area of the house, may do so with my permission.
Many times, I even encourage one or another kid to go work somewhere else while I teach a lesson to the remaining kiddos.
Here’s a video to get a quick look at our one-room-schoolhouse setup!
What’s your daily homeschool routine?
Here’s a quick glimpse at our daily homeschool routine.
All times are flexible, and our schedule is more organic than firmly set. But most days go something like this.
I make myself fully available to the kids in the morning.
That means I turn my cell phone off, ignore laundry, dishes, and other housework, and don’t plan any ministry work for the morning hours.
I generally stay in the school room, and only leave to get snacks, take a quick break, or help kiddos who needed to move their school work to another area of the house.
My kiddos know that I’m available for them until noon, but that I have responsibilities I need to attend to after noon.
That means they’re responsible for getting their work done during this time – especially their work that needs direct lessons from me, or additional help and guidance from me.
We take a lot of 5-15 minute breaks during this time.
Sometimes, the kids want to power through their work, and only need a break for snack, and finish well before noon.
Other times, we’re very distractible (either individuals, or as a family) and need a lot of breaks… even between individual subjects.
After noon, if the kiddos aren’t done with their school work due to their own refusal or distractedness, they know that mom becomes much less available to them.
I generally spend the afternoon taking care of household work, or we might get together with friends, or plan some other family activity.
Afternoons are flexible, depending on the weather and family plans.
Afternoons are relaxed and free, for the most part.
I try to spend at least some time playing a game with the kids, or reading to the littles.
Often I spend a lot of time getting caught up on housework, and trying to figure out what’s for dinner before my husband gets home.
When daddy gets home, we eat dinner, do family chores, pray the Rosary, and launch our bedtime routine.
In our household, an evening family movie allows for dad to relax with the kids after a long day at work, while I get to have some time to myself relaxing and decompressing in a long, hot bath.
Dad also takes the lead on putting the kids to bed, and evening prayer and blessings.
What does your Weekly Schedule Look like?
Our typical daily schedule has a few routine adjustments throughout the week.
Lately, it’s been our goal to make it to Mass and adoration one day a week. This happens first thing in the morning, so on those days, we get a late start to our formal school day.
We also participate in a homeschool co-op / gathering one day a week, and we try to keep formal schooling to a minimum on that day.
We don’t generally observe the secular holidays by taking a day off from school, but we do often observe the Catholic feast days and our kiddos’ birthdays by having a vacation day.
During holiday weeks, we may do an extra day of school on Saturday to make up for the lost day.
What Homeschool Curriculum do you use?
I generally label our homeschool curriculum as “it’s complicated.”
We started off with Kolbe Academy – which is a great, classical based curriculum!
My advice for new homeschoolers is always to start off with a complete curriculum, like:
Or whatever option captures your heart and makes you excited about homeschooling.
And then, after you get a a few years in, and begin to learn more about your own homeschool style and your children’s needs, don’t be afraid to make substitutions and changes.
At this point, we’ve made so many substitutions, we have a completely customized and unique curriculum!
Each year, we change things up as needed, based on our personal life and the kiddos’ needs.
I made a series of videos to show you our homeschool curriculum in-depth!
First: Our religion curriculum.
This is our most important subject. We start with religion first, every day. We take our time, have discussions and conversations about what we’re learning, and add projects and celebrations that capture our interest.
Next: Language studies.
Our first priority in language studies is to learn how to read, and how to love reading.
After that, we have been leaning towards teaching our kids grammar and vocab and mastery of language primarily through Latin studies.
We’re still new to learning Latin and embracing a true classical curriculum, so this could change in the future if it doesn’t work out for our family.
But so far we find it challenging and beautiful, and we love our Latin program!
Part 1: Language Studies
Part 2: More about the Word Wheels I mentioned (send me an email at tojesussincerely(at)gmail(dot)com if you want them!!)
After that: Mathematics!
I love math, went to college for math, and taught math in high school for a few years before staying home to raise my own kiddos.
Math is an important subject for me!
I have a favorite curriculum, but admittedly, my favorite isn’t what’s best for all of my children.
So we switched things up and tried something new this year, which has thankfully been a success so far!
The “Extras” in Academics
I admit, I don’t put as much emphasis on history and science as I do on Language and Math.
Everybody has their strong suit, their primary subjects, and their things that play second fiddle.
In our household, these two academic subjects fall into that second-fiddle category.
This is where I outsource to online instruction and resources for some of my kiddos, and also where we try to combine grade-levels so that one single curriculum can be used by multiple kids or even the entire family.
Frequently Asked Homeschool Questions
I’d love to share a few resources from interviews I did on my podcast and chatting with other bloggers about the topic of homeschooling!
Here’s a podcast episode I did with my co-host Tim on our show Home But Not Alone a few months ago, in which I answered Tim’s questions about homeschooling!
Tim asks questions like:
- Are all homeschoolers weird?
- Do you ever get out of the house?
- How much time to you spend on prep?
- What’s the cost of homeschooling?
- Is it as difficult as people say?
- What’s your favorite thing about homeschooling?
If you homeschool or are thinking about homeschooling, you’re going to love this honest conversation: Homeschool Q&A!
Over on Facebook, I chatted with my friend Amy Brooks of Prayer Wine Chocolate, who for the first time ever, considered the mere idea of homeschooling her children.
When the idea popped in her head, she had a lot of questions to ask – and I was happy to share my opinions and strategies that have worked will in our own homeschooling family!
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