Homeschool

Alternatively titled, “Anything I can do, you can do better.”

Well folks, you’re about to read words that I never thought I would type. We are planning to homeschool this year.

I’ll preface by saying, we aren’t choosing homeschool because we are afraid of the virus. I feel really confident maintaining healthy immune systems through good nutrition, lots of sunshine, supplements & sleep. I also respect everyone’s feelings and fears on the topic though and I know everyone is in a very unique position, so this is a judgement free zone on the topic.

There are a few reasons that we chose this route, the number one reason being that I don’t ever want to wake up at six in the morning to pack lunches ever again. Kidding. But also, putting that in the pros column.

The current district policy where we live has given us two options. One is to send kids back to school, but they will only be in school two days a week based on the first letter of their last name, and will comply with state health department recommendations of some masks, social distancing, temperature checks & additional cleaning/sanitizing. On the days they aren’t in the building, they will do distance learning. The second option is full distance learning. Distance learning, in either scenario, requires 390 minutes of online learning per day. Ultimately, after lots and lots and loooottttts of discussions, neither of those options felt like the school experience we hoped to have for our kids (at their ages, specifically), so we decided to explore homeschool.

The first step in choosing to homeschool is finding out what your state laws and regulations are (which we did and we are happy with) and then digging into what you want your curriculum to look like. I went straight to my homeschool mom friends and asked their opinions, and also asked all of you on Instagram and got a ton of responses!! The most highly recommended curriculums were The Good & The Beautiful, Teaching Textbooks, Masterbooks, Horizons, Abeka and Wild & Free.

I looked into all of them and ultimately decided that we will use The Good. & The Beautiful for our Language Arts and Reading, basically as a backbone to all of our school this year. If you go to their website, you’ll see that a lot of stuff is out of stock but they offer the full Language Arts course set for FREE as a pdf download. I grabbed as much as I could for each of their grade levels and then downloaded the rest to have printed & put together in three ring binders. We are going to use Masterbooks for math, all of that was in stock so I got the kids workbooks and the teacher manuals. For science & history, we will also use TGATB, and I love that these are taught at a family level, so you don’t need to break apart your lessons based on your kids grade level!! So rather than picking grade level generic workbooks for those subjects, you just choose a full subject to study for the year.

Both of these curriculums are faith based, which I love!!

I’ve also heard great things about Outschool for some online learning classes, and we may choose to do a few of these as well. Our goal is to do as much of our school with workbooks and in person teaching, and limit how much technology we use.

Three months ago, we put our kids iPads away. During the school year, our rule has always been no iPads during the week, they only got them on weekend mornings (ahem, so we could sleep in) or on rainy days. The first few weeks of quarantine were tough and we let them get away with a lot more. Then, after virtual learning for many hours a day, plus them begging to still get to play on them here and there, we made the executive decision that we were done with them for a while. The first few days were as tough and of course we were tempted many times to just give them back. You know the drill, you send your kids outside to play and ten minutes later, they’re all at your feet begging to just play iPad. Or they’ve had their face buried in their iPads for an hour and you tell them it’s time to put them away, and everyone turns into a grumpy zombie. It’s almost August and we are happy (and surprised!) to report that we’ve had a completely iPad free summer and we don’t plan to give them back. Our kids have so much more creativity, patience and overall they get along a million times better. I tell you all of this because I think this is going to be KEY in a successful homeschooling year for us, so if you’re in this position too, I encourage you to try it. It will suck at first, but you’ll see a noticeable difference in your kids in just a week.

A few more things. People have asked if we are worried about our kids not being around their friends or having the social aspect of school. And no, we aren’t! They’re going to continue with sports and gymnastics and play dates, plus we have very close circles of friends that we will continue to see often! We also hope to travel (if it’s allowed) during the school year and see some long lost friends that we miss, I know the kids will have a ton of great interaction with all of their friends this year!

Another question we have had is if we will do it just this year or continue it for good, and I honestly can’t answer that yet. It all depends on how the year goes and what the world looks like in 2021.

Now to the fun part, I’m excited to turn our back family room into a homeschool classroom so we can keep all of our stuff in one spot! Brandon just drew up plans to build us a big work table with some drawers, we will move the couch out, bring in some cozy reading chairs, and of course, hang Christmas lights. I’ll do a tour of the room and share plans with you this week!

And last, a few things I have purchased outside of the curriculum:

The Call of the Wild & Free Book (I’ve been encouraged to read this by other homeschool moms, I’m excited to dive in!)

Math Cubes (I needed something like this during distance learning earlier this year, I’ve had them in my amazon cart since May!)

Beginning Cursive Workbooks (they may not even have the best actual handwriting yet but we are diving straight into cursive this year and I’m excited!!!)

Ok what else?! I know this post was lonnnnng but hopefully I covered a lot of what you guys have been asking about! If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments. AND if you’re a homeschool mama and have advice or tips to share, we would also LOVE if you would leave those in the comments too!!!! I’m excited to jump in and as always, super grateful for all of you who are following along!!! XO

PS. Just as I was about to post this, Brandon looked over my shoulder and said “you spelled homeschool wrong.” So we’re off to a good start.

Follow our homeschool journey on Instagram.

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57 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing!! We are really considering homeschooling as well for a lot of the same reasons. Thank you for the resources and the encouragement! Can’t wait to see the space and hear how it goes!

  2. Yes! I love this. This is exactly where my heart is at now, too. I have arrived at this decision after a couple months of deep thinking and research and a lot of doubt, haha. Utah has a couple districts with a hybrid option where you’re through a charter school so kept your state standards (so returning or college or whatever is simplified) but with ton of freedom on curriculum and materials and time. This is the route I’m going, with lots of fun adventures and art and nature study mixed in. You’ve got the creativity and the energy to pull this off!! I’m super excited to follow along with your homeschool journey for the year. I’ve been absorbing all I can through the Wild + Free site and The Call of the Wild + Free. Also, I’m reading The Brave Learner. I’m only like 1/8th the way I’m but it has mentioned magic about 16 times already – I bet you’d appreciate it.

  3. We’re homeschooling this year too, for the exact same reasons as you. And because you mentioned TGTB curriculum on Instagram, I researched it and were also going with that this year!!

  4. Your enthusiasm is here is contagious. You make so many valid points and sound equal parts convicted, enthusiastic and down to earth and about this and it’s refreshing. Thank you for reminding me I can choose my attitude in all of this and make it fun and hopeful in the meantime! Always an inspiration!

  5. “The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is your attitude” your lost is totally this! Sorry to comment twice but I pressed send too soon!

  6. I’m considering homeschooling my future kindergartner because I can’t see her doing virtual for many hours of the day! Are you hiring someone to homeschool or doing it yourself?!

  7. Thank you for this! I’m still trying to make my final decision, but I’m leaning toward homeschooling for sure…my only reservation about jumping right in is that I have a one month old baby girl. Just wondering how I’ll juggle constant breastfeeding with teaching my girls going into first and third grade😬

  8. Will they get to just go right back to school next year (if safe) or do you have to prove a certain number of hours were taught? Also, if they go back next year, will they be possibly taught things they already learned or do you have access to your schools curriculum to know what to cover?

  9. Thank you for posting this! I will agree with the statements above, your view on everything written is so refreshing. I honestly got done with reading this and texted my husband right away saying we are done with the ipads. Our girls are not on them much, maybe an hour a day? Less during the week, more on the weekend, but I feel like it just ruins them. They are craby, and want more, and are not being creative. I always say this then cave and give them back. I think this is what I needed to stick to it! If you’re looking for more blog post ideas, I would love to hear what you have replaced that ipad time with! What are the girls’ current favorite activities to do.

  10. Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling!! My oldest is 17 and we’ve been homeschooling for 13 years now. I’ve loved raising my three sons and having all this time with them that I wouldn’t have if I sent them off to school every day. You’ll find there are a lot of us homeschoolers out there. So I’m sure you’ll find all the help you need! There are so many options and that can definitely be overwhelming. Try things out. If they don’t work for your family, try something else. Don’t be afraid to give up on something if it isn’t working. You will probably discover that all three of your girls learn things differently and you should cater to that too. Have a fun year!!

  11. Thank you for a great post, Jessica! You seriously read my mind about everything. I want my kids to go to school, but just feel off about the whole part-time schedule and virtual learning was not fun for us. I’m already seeing the negative side effects of what constant zoom calls and screen time does to my husband – I can only imagine what it would do to my kids and their wellbeing. Thank you again for the encouraging and informative post! You’ve given me many steps to prepare myself to homeschool! I feel so much better after having read your post and much less overwhelmed! Cheers to you and all you do!

  12. We are doing the same!! 390 hours of online a day is too much for kindergarten and 2nd grade! We started our schoolwork yesterday and plan to take a long fall break when no one else is around!

  13. Thank you so much for this! I’ve chosen the e-learning for my two but I am leaning more towards just doing my own home schooling.

  14. Hi Jessica!
    I would love to add teaching from rest by Sarah McKenzie as a book all homeschool parents should read new and old it is truly divine inspired encouragement!

  15. I’m so excited for you guys! We are TGATB for Emery, too. Drake will still be distance learning for his school but super flexible. Can’t wait to see the homeschool room and you will love the Wild & Free book – I just finished it!

    xo

  16. Thank you for posting this! It is so interesting to see how every family is adjusting to the circumstances. Do you think if there was an option for in-person instruction five days a week that you would have chosen that option? I hope you guys have the best year!!

  17. I love that you’re incorporating cursive. I’m so sad that I don’t have time to reach my school kids!
    I’ve actually read that it can be easier for some kids developmentally based on the writing strokes, so your girls may really take to it!
    Good luck to all of you this year!

  18. Love this!! My girls’ school is offering only virtual (St. Louis area) and I’m just not okay with that. They are 2nd grade and kindergarten. I’m a teacher at a charter school in the city and they are most likely going to come to my school for at least the 1st semester. I’m so grateful I have that choice. I’m sure you will love homeschooling!

  19. This is such a great post and your attitude is uplifting! One question about the iPad free summer. How do the girls do on the long car ride to the lake? We really struggle in the car and end up with iPads or movies. Do you have some great road trip hacks to share?

    • our car ride is only 35-40 minutes so they don’t get ipads, I swear ipads make them carsick anyway. We did let them have them when we drove to Iowa last month and were quickly reminded why we took them away!!

  20. How exciting! I have a first grader and a third grader and we’ve homeschooled from the very beginning. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. We’ve been using The Good and The Beautiful for the last couple of years for both language arts and math and we love it! It’s been such a good fit for our family. For reading material, I’d also like to suggest The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart. She also has a podcast which is fantastic.

  21. 390 minutes a day online?? That’s absurd! Our school district hasn’t announced official plans yet, even though school is set to start in about 5 weeks. I’m on pins and needles. Part of me wants to homeschool (and I’ve got all the curriculum picked out, including TGTB) and part of me is terrified. I know you’ll do great! Looking forward to seeing your home school room!

  22. I’m so excited one of my favorite bloggers is going to be homeschooling like we do! We’ve been homeschooling for eight years, and while it certainly isn’t always easy, it is so rewarding. I would give you some tips, but don’t think you need them.. you’ll rock this thing! So much you just figure out as you go, experience is your best teacher. What a valuable resource you’ve given people who are in your boat, and even as a seasoned homeschooler, I so appreciate your enthusiasm and energy! It’s so inspiring and a main reason why you’re one of my favorites. 😊 Keep on keeping on! Btw, can’t wait to see that new homeschool space!

    • I am so excited to see that you chose homeschooling! This is our 3rd year and we take it year by year but it’s been the best decision. We also love TGATB curriculum. It’s been great for the kids and for me! I just wanted to suggest reading Sarah McKenzie’s book, “Teaching from Rest.” It puts everything into perspective. I am so excited for your school year and anxious to see your posts.

  23. Your plan sounds so refreshing, especially for the girls at their ages! The virtual learning time each day is a lot of expectation for that age group! I was home-schooled for 9 years and my mom’s attitude and patience made it all. There were days we deviated from the learning plan and went on a field trip, worked in the garden, or had more time on the trampoline….. just because! I was home-schooled without technology, so I love your idea of iPad free Summer and continuing it. Not a popular opinion with a lot of parents, and obviously all our lives look different, but I just wanted to tell you how refreshing it is to hear that! One idea to add for fun – get pen pals for the girls! I had a few pen pals at that age and I absolutely loved practicing my cursive writing on the fun stationary my mom would allow us to pick out. We had cute envelopes/stickers/stamps. It was a highlight for me!

  24. I just laughed out loud at the last sentence. Good luck to you! It sounds like it will be a fun year. I notice the same thing with my kids when we take iPads away!

  25. We are in the decision process of what to do. We aren’t scared or fearful – like y’all, we just don’t feel either choice gives the kids the environment we want them to have.
    I love Apologia science curriculum bc it is not grade level specific, my kids can do it together and has cool hands on projects. I’m going to use Handwriting Without Tears.
    Thank you so much for posting about this – it is encouraging to see someone else just beginning the homeschool adventure. There are lots of resources out there but honestly it can be intimidating to see only moms who have been homeschooling a long time. Thanks for sharing your journey!! Please keep posting – supplies, workbooks, amazon orders for school, schedules, planning – just as much as you can!!

  26. I give this weeks, max. Jessica, I homeschool and it takes a year (minimum) to prepare. The thought of you thinking you can do 3 kids “in my pajamas drinking coffee” is laughable and destined for failure. Also, kids these ages must interact with digital devices (unless you think technology will go away?) If you continue on this path, they’ll be well behind their peers and, frankly, lost. I can’t wait until you share how successful you’ve been! (Because I predict that post!)

    • I’ve been home educating for 7 years and it has never taken a year to prepare. What a self-righteous, snarky post. People like you don’t further the cause of home education. Everyone is doing the best they can in unprecedented times. Take your negative attitude elsewhere.

  27. I’m in NB Canada 🇨🇦 and we are homeschooling too. We have 0 cases but the thought of my kids being sent home halfway through the fall and having covid teach again and wanting all the control lol helped my decision.
    We did TGTB Arthropods unit this summer. Number 1 because it’s easier to study bugs in the summer months and 2. I wanted to cross 1 subject off. We finished last week and it was so much fun.
    I ordered BJU press for our core subjects. My best friend is also homeschooling and she is using Gather Round.
    My biggest pet peeve so far about HS is everyone asking about how our kids will socialize. They are both in soccer, go to SS every week, and have play dates with close friends.
    But during covid none of us could socialize. So I laugh that it’s such a concern.
    Good for you for making the best choice for your kids. Please remind me in November that yes we made the right choice lol.

  28. Are you in Kansas? Where did you find the laws? I’m in the exact same situation with our school district and I don’t love either option!

  29. Love that you’re homeschooling! I still don’t know what my oldest daughter’s (she’ll be going into Kindergarten) school district’s going to do exactly. I know they created their own Virtual Academy but have not done the roll-out of the entire plan yet (as in, how many minutes/hours of the day) we will have to do online learning. I may just have to go the homeschool route for both my girls since I haven’t even heard from my youngest daughter’s preschool at all. Some extra work pages never hurt anyway so thank you for this!! Can’t wait to follow along with you on this journey as well! 🙂

  30. Love this! We also homeschooling this year. Please post about how the homeschooling is going and if you have and tips or tricks.

  31. This is so good! Thank you for sharing all of these great ideas and options. We are seriously considering homeschooling this year too. How old are your girls? My daughter will be in 2nd grade and my twin boys would be 4K. I am really interested in TGATB too – great recommendation! The Call of The Wild + Free has been amazing so far too. Is there a reason you aren’t doing the handwriting or math with TGATB? Or just because they were out of stock?
    Your positivity and energetic spirit are so uplifting, especially these days! I’m so excited to teach my kids this year and spend some extra time with them learning our own way! 😊

    • I have pre-k, first & third! and also didn’t realize TGATB had cursive as their curriculum, and turns out I did already order it, so I guess we just have extra workbooks! math, I have heard mixed reviews and a few trusted homeschool mom friends of mine recommended masterbooks so I just went with it!

  32. If you ever need any suggestions on novels, cursive handwriting books, reading programs etc, I can help! (I work at a Classical Christian school and have learned so much over the past ten years.) I have three kiddos who all have very different learning styles and what I have learned is, they will get there! Just do what you can and God will fill in the rest.

  33. I have to tell you that you are the very first person to give an explanation for homeschooling that I can get behind. I was homeschooled as a child (4th-9th grade) and, for many reasons, I swore up and down that I would NEVER EVER homeschool my children. Every time I see an individual or influencer declaring homeschooling, I’ve had a little snobby chuckle. But your reasoning gave me pause. My district also has a virtual and hybrid option, but has not yet listed an at-home time learning requirement. We also removed screens from our house and I hesitate to relinquish them back into our life. Anyway, I’ve read your blog since Harper barfed milk all over you during a stomach bug (still my favorite post), but I never comment, except now because I really commend your thought prrocess here.

  34. Thanks for the post, I haven’t made a decision for my daughter yet, she’ll be going into kindergarten. What grades are your kids going into?

  35. Thank you for filling this post with thought and perspective. I keep feeling like the devices are eating away at my kids summer, but I felt like the luxury was a compromise that gave me some alone time. I’m considering adding device-free days and start from there. I also have three and been considering homeschool for the sheer fact that I can’t log on and help 3 kids navigate apps and Zoom for the school day. We have tried it with summer school and it’s exhausting. My three are 4, 6 & 8 and I feel like we are living in a time that is forcing us to regroup and discover a different pace. I’m trying to stylishly turn my dining room in to a homeschool area. That’s for taking us on your homeschool (with multiples) journey.

  36. Hi! Starting homeschool here, too! I had to order some digiti prints (our unit study and handwriting to TG&TB) … have you found a CHEAP place to print these items off?!?! LOL that’s the budget part that’s killing me! 🤦🏼‍♀️ Good luck with you guys ❤️

  37. Love this Jess! You can do this! God gifted you your children and he will equip you and bless you beyond what you can ever imagine, just trust that you are the best teacher for your children. I sent you a long message on IG, lol. We started homeschooling at the beginning and are entering our 3rd year and I love it even more every year. What a blessing it is to be able to tailor your kids education, connect as a family, and hone in on each of their unique personalities and strengths. Love your enthusiasm and I KNOW you are going to rock this!!!!

  38. Thanks for sharing your journey! As a homeschooling family, we are excited to meet so many new homeschooling families and share in their journey! Homeschooling has been a blessing to our family and I hope it is for y’all as well 💙

  39. I’m sure you guys are having a blast so far! I just wanted to leave you some encouragement: You’ve got this. God has already given you everything you need to be the best teacher for your girls. There will be some hard days, but that’s life with kids. The good will overwhelm the not so good and your girls will cherish these years home with you! I’m excited to follow along on your adventure! 🖤

  40. You will be great at homeschooling your girls! You are so creative and fun! There will be hard days for sure, but it is a lot of fun! I have been “roadschooling” our daughter for over a year now and we love it! I also use “The Good And The Beautiful”, and have really enjoyed using it. Thanks for sharing and good luck! You totally got this!

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