Guest Author: Melissa Muir of Melissa Is Teaching
Our homeschool values keep us grounded when making decisions about curriculum, scheduling, and budgeting each year. These will definitely differ from family to family, but will most likely change from year to year in the same family! It’s definitely true of our family as we grew from 1 to 4 kids, changed jobs, and got into extracurriculars like sports and music.
Values Drive Our Homeschool Learning
First up: Rigorous bilingual curriculum
We’re really intent on teaching our kids in a way I’ve never seen done in a classroom (after teaching in public and private schools, as well as online, this is saying something!). We want our kids to be fully biliterate, which means we spend a decent amount of time reading AND writing in English and Spanish. Want to learn more about how we teach writing in our homeschool? Start here!
Our faith plays a role in this as well, but contrary to what you might think, it’s not the main factor. If our kids were in public school, we’d also hope to send them off with the critical thinking skills to be able to test and evaluate what they’re hearing in the classroom. That said, we’re able to weave in aspects of our life as followers of Jesus into our school day easily.
Next: Flexibility in Time and Finances
As we live abroad, a rigorous bilingual education would cost a pretty penny (close to $1,000 a month per child). Yikes! That’s just not something we’re willing to pay, and homeschooling helps us live debt-free and be able to invest in other things so that we can provide our kids with (God willing!) a college degree and no debt as they step into adulthood.
To give you an idea of what we actually spend in our homeschool, we’re paying about $20/year for math books, and our $40-60 Language Arts curriculum is used for all 4 kids, so it’s a one-time purchase for our whole family. Science, social studies, and other subjects are all done for free or nearly free via books, museums, and Nearpod lessons. Check out this video for more on how to keep costs down while homeschooling!
As we’re saving a good bit of money, we’re also looking to spend it wisely. We’ve invested in a third language for our kids by having each child (once they’re reading confidently in English) begin online French classes twice a week for 30 minutes each.Our kids participate in karate classes 4-5 days a week, and take ukulele, piano, and guitar lessons online.
Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is about kids learning, but it’s also about our family flow. When something is off with the parents or the kids, it affects all of us! As my husband and I both work from home, we’ve found a solid schedule that helps us get our work done without undue stress, while also making sure we’re progressing with the kids’ learning. Check out this video for more info on how we work from home while homeschooling!
Finally, we’ve managed to work in a 4-day homeschool week, which leaves Friday (or Fun Friday, as it’s known in our house) open for library meetups, play dates, or expeditions. It may or may not be the best time to schedule 6 back to back dentist appointments! (Wink)
Homeschool allows us to work at our kids’ pace. This mostly stems from my own experience of being fueled by the rat race of straight A’s, 4.0 GPAs, and box-checking I went through in my own education. While I’m grateful for much of that, I also feel like it took away the wonder and discovery of education which can spur learners on to SO much more.
If our kids are finished with a book early, or are “done” with 4th grade language arts in April, does that mean they have to wait until August or September to pick up 5th grade? Nope. Go for it, kid!
We love seeing them thrive, but also are sensitive to when they might need a break from a subject to fill in some gaps before charging forward. These are both real examples from our family, and I hope it gives you the confidence to know that grade levels are subjective, and progress is really what we’re looking for. Looking for more on working with gifted learners? Check out this video!
So, what are your family’s homeschool values? These are “Homeschool 101” foundations you’ll want to have in place, but even if you’ve already started, find a moment to think these through. You won’t regret it, and I imagine it’ll help your homeschool longevity, too!
See you out there!