344 | Homeschooling 101: How to Begin (Janice Campbell) | REPLAY
If you are new to homeschooling or are looking for a refresh, sit in on Janice Campbell’s talk about where to start. As a graduated homeschool mom of four and curriculum developer, Janice shares her best tips for finding your homeschooling style, choosing curriculum, structuring your year, and more.
Janice Campbell, a lifelong reader and writer, loves to introduce students to great books and beautiful writing. She holds an English degree from Mary Baldwin College, and is the graduated homeschool mom of four sons. You’ll find more about reading, writing, planning, and education from a Charlotte Mason/Classical perspective at her websites, EverydayEducation.com, Excellence-in-Literature.com, and DoingWhatMatters.com.
How to Listen To and Understand Great Music by The Great Courses
How to Annotate for Active Reading by Excellence in Literature
The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan
Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids — And How to Break the Trance by Nicholas Kardaras
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper (Editor)
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Thank you to our sponsors!
Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? We hope to see you there!
Janice Campbell Hi, welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. Today's episode is a bonus episode which
is going to be shared on Homeschooling.mom. It will also
be shared at GHC online homeschooling convention at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com.
For more information on homeschooling, you can also visit my website
EverydayEducation.com where I've been offering books and curriculum for homeschoolers
since 2001. Congratulations on your decision to homeschool. We're glad you're here.
First, we're gonna talk about how to get started, what you need to know in order to choose a
homeschooling method and curriculum that fits. We'll also spend a few minutes talking
about how to plan your time and find that all-important support. But first, let me tell you why
I'm here, talking with you about this big step.
I'm Janice Campbell, and just over 30 years ago, my husband and I began the
homeschooling journey with our four little boys. Just as you are doing, we set out to learn
everything we needed to know in order to give our boys an education that would prepare
them to be who they were meant to be. There wasn't a lot available for homeschoolers at
that time, so as we schooled through the years, I created things like transcripts made easy,
and the Excellence in Literature curriculum for teaching classic literature and writing.
We enjoyed homeschooling and I've enjoyed working with other homeschoolers too. I hope
the things we cover today can give you confidence as you move forward.
First, let me share three things that make homeschooling different from institutional
First, your job is to create conditions under which learning can happen. Learning is the point
of homeschooling. It's not about the tests or the grades or even just checking off boxes and
getting through your to-do list and through the phonics workbook and the spelling workbook
and the math workbook and all of those things. The best thing about homeschooling
is...well, one of the best things is that grade levels are flexible, just like in the old one-room
schoolhouses in early American settler days. Grade levels are flexible so your child can be,
perhaps, at fourth grade level in math, sixth grade level in reading, seventh grade level in
history, and so forth. What happens is, as they learn, they can move forward, just as those
children in those one-room schoolhouses moved back a bench as they mastered a level, or
move up to the next reader as they mastered a level. They didn't have to wait for everyone
their age. They moved when they were ready. They didn't have to move before they were
ready before they understood. They were able to take the time they needed to learn what
they needed to know. Homeschooling is not one size fits all. There are options to fit your
family and as we talk about homeschool methods, I think you'll find at least one or two or
maybe more that fit what you would like to accomplish with your family and the kind of
atmosphere you wanna create in your home.
So, as we start...think about getting started with homeschooling, the first thing a lot of
people will ask, and rightly so, is it allowed in my state? Or territory. Wherever you live.
What are the laws? And so, the laws vary all across the country. Some states are very
relaxed. Some states have a few more requirements. You can find out what the
homeschooling laws in your state are by going to HSLDA.org, and there is a summary of
the laws in your state, with links to more details. You can also find out by just searching
Department of Education, your state. But, the best place, or the place that I would go first, is
to do a little search for the state homeschool group in your state. If you are lucky enough to
have a state homeschool organization, they're going to offer you a well thought out
interpretation of the law and guidance for how to meet the requirements. Very often support
groups are also listed on a state website as well. So, once you've found out what your state
requires, you can begin to think about how you wanna teach it.
But in order to decide how you wanna teach, you first have to think about the child you
have. You have to think about how that child learns, and also how you learn and how you
think because those things are not one size fits all. I happen to be very much of a visual
learner. I learn by reading and through patterns and writing and things like that. Whereas
my oldest son was an auditory learner. He learned through hearing. It was quite a revelation
to me to understand how much differently he retained, he understood and retained
information when he heard it as opposed to when he read it, or even just saw it. So, you
have to teach the child you have. One of the ways you can get a little more insight into how
your children learn, especially if you are having them for the first time this year, and they've
been in a school setting before, so you haven't observed their learning styles, is to take the
VARK questionnaire, V-A-R-K, and you can google for that or the URL is on the slide.
These slides will be available for you after the talk.
VARK, V-A-R-K, stands for visual, auditory, reading-writing, or kinesthetic, which is hands-
on types of learning. And of course, then there's multi-modal, which is a combination of things. My test for figuring out whether my kids were visual...had visual preferences or auditory preferences or whatever was in observing what they did when we sat on the sofa
and read something together. The ones who had to sit next to me and see all the pictures
and all the words were more likely to be visual. The child who was at the opposite end of
the sofa, but remembered all the things just because he heard it, well, that's my auditory
son. He could tell me back almost everything we read without seeing the words, which was
hard for me, as a visual person, to understand.
But the child that is wiggling off the sofa and rolling around and driving everyone nuts, that's
probably a kinesthetic learner. That's the learner that doesn't need to see it, they need to do
it. So, very often, they're going to remember things if you give them something to occupy
their hands, and so I use to let mine, doing Legos or Play-Doh or something quiet while he
listened to us read history and science and geography and all of those things. He retained
so much more when he could keep his hands busy.
So, these learning modalities are simply ways that you can help your students understand
better. At an institutional school tends to be geared more toward the reading-writing student,
but you can just imagine how many students don't learn best that way. They don't prefer to
learn that way, they don't fully understand when they have to learn that way, and it just
helps so much when you can adapt what you do and choose curriculum that fits and
supplements that fit. And we're gonna talk about how to supplement any curriculum so that
it'll work for these modalities.
Another way of looking at the way your children learn is thinking about whether they're left-
brained or right-brained. Your left-brained is very detail-oriented. They like lists and
spreadsheets and all of those good things. Maybe not spreadsheets when they're young,
but you know what I mean. But the right-brained person is more creative and free-flowing
and they see, tend to see big pictures. They tend to rely on intuition, and they like to have
fun with learning. They learn, a lot of time, with music involved and a lot of things like that. A
spreadsheet will put them to sleep. But the important thing to know about left-brain right-
brain is not that you can't learn in a left-brain way if you're right-brained. You know, with a
left-brain curriculum if you're right-brained, but that it's okay to adapt. It's okay to change, it's
okay to bring in tools from both sides to increase your child's balance and understanding.
Help them learn to use charts and graphs and lists and outlines and things like that. But
also, show them color coding and mind maps. Let them do vision boards and timelines. All
of those things increase the ways your children will have to understand and learn as they
grow, as they get into high school and college. I used lots and lots of mind maps all the way
through high school and college, especially college. With color coding for reviews and
things of that nature. And, there's so much that can be learned. We'll look at these things in
a little more detail as we look at some of the supplementary things you can do.
But, think about how Leonardo Davinci learned. He is one of the most creative thinkers of all
time. He drew, painted, sculpted, studied, and invented, and did more in his lifetime than
most people could have accomplished in ten lifetimes. But, he set learning goals, and he
kept learning journals, which we will also talk about. But through his life and his notebooks,
scholars have figured out some of the things that he did in order to help himself learn. And
you can do them too in your household. He was very curious. He asked funny questions
about hummingbird tongues and all sorts of things. And so, encourage curiosity. Try things
out, do experiments, demonstrate and test, refine sense. Leonardo was very observant
about what was best, what was best in art and music and physical health, and food, even.
What is truly good. If you can help your children develop a taste for, for example, food that
is healthy and food that is good, they're going to have less health problems, fewer health
problems, as they grow older, and things like that.
So that's all part of learning; how to learn. Teaching your children as whole people. One of
the things they suggest is to embrace ambiguity. Know that you're not always going to have
the right answer. You're on a learning journey, your children are on a learning journey.
You're going to discuss and you're going to talk about and you're going to be able to
understand that you are where you are at this point and you're going to continue learning.
Learning doesn't stop at the end of high school as most of us have found out. Leonardo
also balanced art, science, and technology. He dabbled in everything, but each thing helped
the other. When the arts are dropped out of schools...music and the visual arts and physical
arts and even the vocational arts are dropped out of school in order to focus more on just
what happens in your head, the rest of you is ignored. The fact that music is related to math
and helps math has been well documented in studies, but you as a homeschooler can keep
that in. You can help your student see those connection and make those connections. And
if they weren't done for you, when you were in school, you can learn right along with them,
which is probably my ultimate favorite thing about homeschooling.
Leonardo also believed in cultivating grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and ??? as you probably
heard that he could write backwards. Like mirror writing. And I've actually met someone
who had developed that skill. It's very strange to watch, especially when they can write with
both hands at the same time, going the opposite direction. Those things all help your
students move through life more easily and with greater success.
And finally, number seven is to appreciate the interconnectedness of all things. Learning
like Leonardo DaVinci is quite a challenge. There's actually a book called How to Think Like
Leonardo Davinci, by Michael J. Gelb, from which I learned a lot about Davinci. And if you
wanna pursue that further, it's a good book. How to Think Like Leonardo Davinci. By
Michael J. Gelb.
Okay, so, moving on, we have to consider what we are as teachers. One of the greatest
fears of a new homeschooling parent is that you have to teach everything. That you have to
know your subject matter thoroughly before you can teach it. And trust me, I did not know
calculus and physics and any of those things as I came to homeschooling. But good
teachers are those who know how little they know and bad teachers are those who think
they know more than they don't know. All of us graduated from high school and probably
college as well with gaps in knowledge. I don't know anyone who knows it all. I mean, I've
probably met a few who imagine that they're getting close, but most of us realize, we don't
know it all. And that is one of the gifts you have as a homeschooling teacher. You're on the
learning journey with your parents. It's right and proper that they understand that you don't
know everything, but they also need to understand that you're open and willing to learn.
Teachers and adults, when I was a kid, I used to wanna know things desperately. And I
would ask, and very often, teachers would give you brush off answers. Other adults would
think you didn't...weren't really asking the complex question you had in mind, and they
would answer you with, oh, don't bother your head about that, sweetie. Or whatever. You
know, those little dismissive answers. A lot of kids quit asking. That's a loss of curiosity, a
loss of the chance to gain intellectual capacity and learn so much more. It's ever so
important to help your children learn. And I turned into an avid reader. And we had a set of
encyclopedias in the home, and so I would look everything up, and we went to the library
regularly, so I checked out lots of books.
But some kids don't have that opportunity. Some kids just don't get to ask further, and they
don't get to learn. But as I mentioned, you don't have to know everything. So, you can use
my favorite answer when your child asks something you don't know, which is going to
happen on day one, I can practically promise you. My favorite is, "I don't know. Let's find
And, the homeschooling methods you choose will... and the resources you have in your
home will help you find out. So, let's talk a little bit about how you're going to find out. How
the homeschooling methods and curriculum that you use are going to help you teach.
Because really, having resources in the home and having the books and having the proper
methods that fit your family, are going to help you truly make an education that works for
So, some of the most common homeschooling methods are the classical education method,
Charlotte Mason, or Living Books Method, School at Home or Textbook method, Delight
Direct in Learning, and an Eclectic blend. Let's take a look at each of those.
Classical education is...well, I've heard it referred to as what you...what education used to
be called before it was lost in ??? but in the industrial model of education. But, there's a
couple of different definitions that I'll offer you. Martin Cothern, from Memoria Press, he
writes a lot about Classical education, and they have a actual classical school, and he said
that classical education is the ??? of wisdom and virtue through facility with the liberal arts
and a familiarity with the great books. Okay, and if that's not clear enough for you, Circe
Institute, which, they're all about classical education, says, in a blog post, the purpose of
classical education is to cultivate virtue and wisdom. The classical Christian does not ask
what can I do with this learning, but what will this learning do to me.
So the goal of classical education is transformation of the person into someone who can
move through the world with wisdom, with virtue, and with understanding. We've seen
through many many articles in the business section of the paper, and business magazines,
and mainstream magazines and all of that, that many of the CEO's of the largest, wealthiest
corporations in the world, have a liberal arts degree. Or they have no degree, or they have a
degree that does not actually match what they're doing. Classical education is designed to
teach people the tools of thinking. It is designed to help them do whatever they need to do.
It's not a skill-based education. It is a knowledge and understanding based education. And
so, it is one of the most rigorous and delightful and transformative ways that you can learn.
The second type of homeschooling that has currently very popular. It was immerging as I
was coming through. Charlotte Mason was a 19th-century British educator. She believed
that children are people who deserve a full and beautiful education, and when Charlotte
Mason was alive, a really good classical education was designed for wealthier people.
Mostly boys. And she believed that it was accessible to everyone, and so she wrote a series
of books helping parents learn how to aid their children in getting this excellent, excellent
education. She believes in using Living Books, books that bring ideas to life. Art and music.
Short lessons. Handwork through the day. Time outdoors. Nature study. All of that sort of
things. There's no test. There are exams at the end of each term. There's terms, and you
can get online lessons, a complete online curriculum for this at AmblesideOnline.org. And
there's extensive help and supports and great support group and Instagram accounts, I'll
mention some of those, at the end of the talk. there are also publishers who do a living
books based curriculum that is not specifically Charlotte Mason, so they're teaching history
and science and all of those things by telling the stories behind it. The whys, through
excellent books. And couple examples of that is Sonlight.com, S-O-N-L-I-G-H-T, and
BeatifulFeet.com. And there are others. Tapestry of Grace is another one.
The third method that you are probably most familiar with, is the traditional, or textbook
method, in which you have a different book for each subject, and different books for each
grade level and kid. This is the most expensive of the methods, usually. And there's things
like multiple-choice tests and workbooks, fill in the blanks, and all of that sort of thing. It's a
kind of learning, if you went through a regular institutional school, public or private when you
were young. It's probably what you did. I know it's what I did. And I know how little I
remember of all of that, but you know, some people start out with that. A lot of people start
out with that. I think it's the most common because it's familiar, it's easy to do, theoretically.
I mean, if you follow...try to follow the teacher's manual, which is written for a classroom,
very often, it can be difficult. But if you just take the textbooks and just do the next lesson,
it's very doable and it can also be done online. If you go back to the living books method
that we just talked about, a lot of those things can be done together. And I forgot to mention
that. You would study history and science, you know, you can study history and science and
things like that together. And, so it makes your day a little shorter.
And the fourth method is Delight Directed, and essentially, a child learns based on their
interests, so they decide they're interested in, for example, World War II...one of my sons
was quite interested in that, and he would read everything that was available on it, including
Winston Churchill. and we're talking about a preteen. He was fascinated to the extent that
that was his history for quite a while because he went very deeply and could intensively
help to teach his siblings. We talked through...that's one of the things you can do with
Delight Directed learning, especially if you have a student who is a deep dive student, and
really, seriously learns stuff. They can bring it back and deepen the learning of your...the
rest of your kids. And it can be a delightful thing. The job of the parent with Delight Directed
learning is to help the student find resources or mentors or volunteer opportunities, or
internships, depending on the age of the student, of course. It can be labor-intensive in a
way, but it can also slide into not doing enough. So, there's a balance you have to do,
because there's no schedule, no tests, no grades. Nothing. A lot of people, if they're gonna
do any Delight Directed or unschooling type of things, they do it with electives. So whatever
the student happens to be interested in, it becomes an elective, they pursue it for a specific
amount of time. However long their interest lasts. And that can be an elective like the World
War II example. It can be, perhaps, pursuing playing the flute, or learning woodworking, or
things like that. It can be all kinds of learning. It doesn't have to be just the academic thing.
This has the chance of allowing a student to be...to graduate with more gaps in traditional
areas of knowledge. And so, you have to decide how much you're going to use it. But it is a
useful thing, especially for the students who dive deep.
And finally, eclectic is simply a mix and match curriculum. You might end up doing the
Charlotte Mason style for history, language arts, and science, textbooks for math, and
classical online classes for Latin and logic. And, then, you know, change up that balance as
the student gets older and you want more structure, perhaps. Or, allow the student to move
into some apprenticeships or trade skills at the same time they're studying all of these
things. Eclectic tends to be what a family ends up being. It's been kind of a interesting
journey for us. We started out as many families do, with textbooks for several things, which
did not last long because most of my learning had come from my personal reading. And it
was...we still had the old books, living books, and so I started learning about Charlotte
Mason and ended up doing more Charlotte Mason and classical style of schooling. But
since it was not perfectly one or the other, it was more of the eclectic. And of course my... a
couple of my students did their delight directed things.
So, beyond curriculum, there's curriculum options for each of these styles. Well designed
curriculum for any budget, and at the first homeschool conference I went to in 1988, there
were only two tables of curriculum. If you can just imagine that. And most of what was on
those tables was old public school textbooks, which... can you even imagine. If you've been
to a modern homeschool curriculum, especially the Great Homeschool Conventions, you
have seen vendor halls full of wonderful, wonderful resources. So, we've really come a long
way. So, a lot of those resources too, are created by homeschooling parents who saw a
need, stepped up, and filled it. You know, the biology parent, the biology professor parent,
or whatever, wrote a textbook for kids or, unit studies or whatever. But, there are so many
community and online resources as well. And then there are learning tools that work, no
matter what kind of curriculum your student is planning to use.
For each of the options, for classical education, you see some options here. Memoria
Press. Classical Academic Press. Veritas. Classical Conversations. And what I would
suggest doing, if this is the type of education that interests you, is to view their websites,
view their catalogs, request everything that you need to request. And read through it
carefully. Listen to the podcast from these companies. Listen to the founder's talk.
Understand the atmosphere, what they're doing, and how they're doing it. Because there's a
definite mood to each of the curriculum provider companies. And in the same way, the living
book's curriculum also has a feeling and a mood, and so, it starts with AmblesideOnline.org,
because that's got your free and well used, well-supported curriculum. And then, the ones
that you get that are laid out day by day. Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace and Beautiful Feet
and things like that. Those are, they're all excellent choices. But for textbooks, grades K
through 8, have had, for many decades, Calvert School, which is, you order the year's worth
of stuff, it arrives, and there's well laid out textbooks. It was used for missionary families
many, many years ago. And there's Abeka, or Bob Jones, for specifically Christian teaching.
Oak Meadow is a more secular option for the textbook type of learning. But there's more.
Do the research and the place that I would suggest for doing research is
CathyDuffyReviews.com. Cathy Duffy was reviewing curriculum before I started
homeschooling in the late 1980s, so that tells you that she knows what she's looking at. She
has seen it all. Multiple times probably, because multiple additions have come to her. And
she has steadily created this amazing website and amazing resources that will help you
make some wise choices.
So, for all the types of things you do, there are supplements that you can access. Things
like KhanAcademy.org. That's free online video help for, it started out being math subjects,
mostly, but now, it's for a variety of things. TheGreatCourses.com has audio, video, college-
level courses. These are absolutely wonderful resources and a lot of libraries carry them.
they used to be called The Teaching Company. And one of my...well, my oldest son, who is
the auditory learner, and was passionate about music and history, starting at about age 13,
this was what he requested every year for his birthday was a course from The Teaching
Company. His very first one was How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. Which was
amazing classical music college-level course that he listened to until he could practically
repeat it verbatim. He completely loved it.
There's also Open University classes, which I have resource slides at the end of this that
you will get in the hand-out. So, don't worry. You don't have to write down everything or take
pictures of all the slides. It's all good. But, many, many of the biggest universities in the
country, including Ivy Leagues like Yale and MIT and Princeton, are putting classes online.
You're not going to get official college credit for them, but they can be absolutely wonderful
ways to get a taste of what college-level teaching is about. Or for a student who's doing a
deep dive, some delight directed learning, they can be a really good resource.
So, all of those excellent curriculums are available. Most of them, quite complete. But there
are ways to make learning stick. There are ways to make the same curriculum work for all
the kids in your family by adapting with things that work, with different learning preferences
and that help different learning preferences. And one of my favorite things to do is
supplement active learning, you know, supplement their readings with things like a learning
journal. You can take a normal, you know, 8 1/2 by 11 sketchbook, and have your student
just keep a learning journal. Drawing and writing in it, what they're gleaning from what they
read as they go. This particular learning journal that you see on the screen was done by a
seventh-grade student, and she has created a...if you got to sit down with her entire
sketchbook, it's a fascinating look...it contains history and science and things about her
literature books. There are, there's all kinds of fun stuff in there. And it's just going to be a
wonderful record for her family of what she's done. And for her, to take on and show to her
kids. That's going to be a lot of fun as well.
Another thing kids can do is the classic sketch and label. Drawings of everything. Sketching
and drawing are one of the major communication skills. It's something that over the years,
we have kind of lost it, but it used to be part of every student's education. At least at the
upper levels. Because it's important to be able to show, to be able to depict, in some sort of
scale, what you see. Now, I know that we all have phones that we can take pictures with
now, most of us. But, honestly, when you sit down and you start drawing, it's activating
certain neural pathways, or it's creating certain neural pathways in your brain, so that you
remember. You actually see more. If you draw a map as opposed to tracing a map, it
activated more of your brain. And the process is mattering more than the product. It doesn't
have to be like this amazing and beautiful thing from Leonardo Davinci. It can be an
ordinary kid drawing of whatever you're learning. It's the process not the product, and it
makes a huge difference to how much retention there is. Students can draw maps of places
and journeys, and it can be a map of a fictional place. it can be a place you're going to go
and see. You can draw political maps showing how political boundaries have shifted, if
you're studying world history, for example. And you can map a historical expedition, just as
the Lewis and Clark expedition mapped their journey as they traveled across the country.
It's the process of observing and seeing and drawing that make a difference in how much
you retain. You can memorize lists of states, all day long, but when you have studied them
and tried to get their shapes right as you draw them, you're going to really remember them.
And it's kind of fun, quite frankly.
You can use a timeline to see history unfold. Timelines are one of those tools that I wish I'd
known about when I was in school. I would have kept it on my own, because I think they're
such an amazing thing. I always wanna know what the big picture is. What happened
before, what happened afterward. And who lived at the same time this person I'm interested
in lived? Who else was living at the same time Leonardo was living? Who else was living at
the same time Moses was living? What was going on in history? A timeline is what helps
you see that. So, usually, a timeline, this particular timeline, that I ended up making was one
century per spread and there's ten decades, divided into ten decades, and you have
lifelines, color codes lifelines across, so you see how lives overlap. You see certain
centuries, it's really interesting to look. And there's also a format called the book of
centuries, and this was created by Charlotte Mason, and it has a blank left page. I think the
left page is blank. For drawing, and the right page has events on a grid. But the illustration I
have up there is just opposite.
But anyway, it's a century on a page, and the drawings are examples of fashions or
technology or inventions that were created during that particular century. So it's a slightly
different way of looking at history. But these are the things that, instead of having a student
memorize dates, have them understand and see, in living color, hopefully, what came first,
what came second, what happened next. And why. sometimes you can see the why's. And
you can see the fall of civilizations and put on your favorite people. I put on a lot of authors.
I had, when I was keeping them with my boys, we all had one, and I put on a lot of authors
and artists. My son had on a lot of composers and generals. And another son had on a lot
of scientists and explorers. Our timelines were all different colors and it was fascinating to
see which centuries had so many of the things we were interested in.
For older students, let them interact with authors and books by writing in their books with
pencil. I have a whole article on my website, my Excellence in Literature website, about
annotating your books. But it's an important way of processing thoughts, knowing what to
come back to...cause if you're going to be writing an essay about a book that you read, it's
really nice to have notations in the margins and underlines and things like that to help you
find what you need to find. And you can overview and review with lined maps. This is a
mind map that I did in college. It was kind of a review of the periods in the history of
Western civilization. It started up here at one o'clock and went clockwise around the center.
And if you wanna learn more about using mind maps in many more ways than doing a
review or outlining a talk or brainstorming... The Mind Map Book, by Tommy Basan is a
really excellent book to look for.
But whatever you do, supplement everything with real books. Try to have a library in your
home, of sorts. As you can see, behind me, this is my office, and I'm surrounded by books
pretty much all the time. And I really, I love that, because I found with my boys, if there were
books available when they wondered about something, they would read the book. Or they
would at least refer to it. They would try out musical instruments. They would experiment
with art supplies. They would try to build things with tools. Real tools. Not plastic hammers,
but real tools. I mean, you don't' get the one year old a real hammer, but you do quickly as
possible, give them real tools and let them learn to use them.
So much of what children want to do is accompany an adult and do whatever they do. The
focus isn't on checking boxes and getting things done like that. The focus is on helping your
students become who they were meant to be. Broaden their worlds, give them as much as
you can of things that will help them grow and help them learn. If you purchase a curriculum
and you start a particular method, and things are not working for you, there's things you can
do. If the curriculum is too easy for your family, all you do is supplement it. You can add in
more things. You can do creative assignments or you can move faster. You can just move
more quickly through the text, if it's very important to you to finish that resource, as long as
it's not completely wrong and too simple for your child.
If it's too difficult, it can be adapted. You can reduce the length of written assignments. You
can help the child understand what is required and show them a model. Modeling is one of
the most helpful things you're ever going to do for your children. It can change the way they
understand everything because seeing how something is done, and a good model can give
them something to start from. Then they're not trying to invent a form on their own. And you
can work together, of course.
If it's complicated to use...if there's like, a huge enormous teacher's manual, several books
a day for each subject, and way too much work to do in a home setting, just eliminate the
busywork. My math teachers in school never had us do all the problems in a chapter. We
always had to do either the odd problems or the even problems. And if we got them all right,
we did not have to go back and do the rest of the problems or any more. There was an
incentive to work carefully, work well, and just do a good job, so that you didn't' have to go
back. And if you were really having a problem, and you couldn't, and you did make
mistakes, you couldn't do it perfectly, going back was not a punishment, it was just a way to
master what you needed to master.
So, a lot of times, we wonder if screens are the answer to the things that are hard to learn.
And sometimes they are, they can be wonderful tools. But, I encourage you to think about
trying to limit them to some extent because you want to encourage healthy curiosity and
that tends to emerge when they're actually doing things. Reading things, seeing how things
are done in real life. You don't wanna dull the taste for learning with just entertainment. And,
there's a lot of books. I suggested three here that you might look at, Screens and Teens,
Connecting with our Kids in a Wireless World, by Cathy Cook. Glow Kids, About Screen
Addiction, by Nicholas Harderus. And The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our
Brain, by Nicholas Codd. These are fairly scientifically based studies. The very interesting,
this New York Times article that I've referenced at the bottom, The Digital Divide, Screens
and Schools, outlines how many of the people in the tech industry, the very top of the tech
industry, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, and others, very strongly limit what their kids are
exposed to, all through the younger years. They only allow screens later, when it can be
used as a tool. It's an awareness thing. It's a caution thing. It's not a good babysitter. it's just
one of those things that you don't eliminate it. It's a very, very useful tool. You can
accomplish amazing things with a computer. Here I am talking to you on a computer right?
So, just be cautious. it works.
So, now, you're gonna have to plan your time. When are you going to fit schooling in? I'm
guessing that if you're just getting ready to start, you've probably had 24 hours in your day,
likely all do, and surprisingly, you're not gonna get any more time in your day. So things
have to shift and become a little more compact and, yeah. It's not as easy as it could be, I
guess. But, it's normal. Schooling used to happen at, you know, within the home setting.
And tutors would come in, and governesses and things like that. If you've read anything,
you know, any old books, you've probably noticed how things used to be. Well, it's been a
long time since that was in place, but we're kind of recreating a one-room schoolhouse
setting, especially if you have multiple children. And, you're working around them. You don't
have to sit with them the whole time usually. Especially after they're past the very young
Charlotte Mason education has very short lessons. So, you do stay with them for the short
amounts of time, but it's amazingly doable. But you don't have to stay the whole day., You
shouldn't be spending a whole day if you've got young children. But there are different ways
to schedule the school year, the week, the semester, all of it.
So, first, let's look at the ways to schedule the school year. There's a nine-month traditional
schedule. There's year-round type of schooling. Some people do ten weeks on, one week
off. Others, what I call Sabbath Schooling, six weeks on and one week off, and you take the
week off to look at what you've been doing, plan ahead for the next six weeks, and maybe
do a couple fun things like field trips or whatever. There's also block, or college style
scheduling, which worked really well for us when our boys were getting into their teen years.
They would rather spend a longer time on each subject, a couple days a week, than just go
from subject to subject, one hour each, like traditional school does. So we did math and
science on Tuesday and Thursday, and the humanities on Monday and Wednesday.
And then you can do a one subject plan, which a military school near us is where i first
heard of this one. You can do five, seven-week terms during the school year. And you have
language arts and math going on all year long, so it's not really one subject. But you only do
one other subject at the same time. So, it's math, language arts, and science, for example.
Or math, language arts, and history. And you just deeply immersed for you know, a few
hours a day, getting the right number of hours for the credit in that class. But, within seven
weeks. So, for a deep dive student, that can be a really good fit.
With a loop schedule, you just do the next thing. So you start out with what you need to
accomplish during the term. You create your weekly schedules, and for the first week, you
put on what you wanna cover. For the second week, you start where you left off and put on
the next grouping of things. Some things might not go as fast as you predicted, so you'll
have to just start slower with that thing. But, basically, it's do the next thing.
One of the ways that you can schedule time and keep time flowing nicely is to create study
clusters. You can do it by theme, subject, or time period. And a sample of a western
civilization module is a, say a two-year high school study, and you would do history,
literature, art, music, philosophy, drama, all of it, based on a chronological survey of
Western civilization. And we did that, actually, and used Western Civilization, by Jackson
Spielvogel. And it was good. We supplemented with a lot of living books, biographies and
historical fiction, and so forth. All of that helps a student retain. But if you're just going to do
something like, maybe 20th-century history, also do 20th-century literature, 20th-century art,
20th-century music. Doing everything at the same time, it creates a greater retention. I
mean, you remember if you're reading the Great Gatsby, and you're listening to the kind of
music that Scott Fitzgerald was listening to, and you are reading about what was happening
post World War I, and prohibition, and all of those things, and you really start understanding
how things like Great Gatsby emerged, how Salvador Dahli, the art of the time, it's all part of
the piece. You hear it, you see it, you read it and understand it, and it's way better way to
teach history than separating everything out and one year, you're teaching American
history, but you're over studying British literature, and it doesn't really connect, and doesn't
really, you know supplement each other. So try to do clusters if you can.
For your weekly plan, creating a routine is such an enormously helpful thing. So, create a
time map. A time map is simply a little grid that gives you time slots, early, mid, and late
morning. Early, mid, and late afternoon. And you fit what you're going to do into each of
those time slots for the days of the week. We did school Monday through Thursday, errands
on Friday. Grouping all the going out things on one day, it was tremendously helpful for us,
because I was caregiving all through the years that we were homeschooling, pretty much.
And, so I had to be home. And making sure that I could accomplish all the schooling that
needed to be done in four days, I had to not go out on those four days. It just, it made it,
made life simple. But be sure to plan in things like reading time together, reading time
separately, desk work time together, desk work time separately, and so forth. And this is
just an overall time map for life. But you can also make one for your lesson routines. And
this is a, an outline of a time map that's created from a schedule in When Children Love to
Learn, which is a book about how the Charlotte Mason method is applied and you see that
the lessons here were twenty and thirty and fifteen minutes. There are subjects like
grammar that are studied only twice a week. Science is studied three times a week with
recitation in between. Handwriting twice a week. And then composition and recitation,
And so, there are ways to plan your time so that your days are short enough that you can
live through this. Because homeschooling takes a little time. So does everything else. If
you're working from home, there's that challenge too. I've worked from home for most of the
time and it's a challenge. You just have to combine things. A lot of things. So, the thing to
remember, with your time maps, is that, so much of what you're going to be doing is helping
your students learn. This quote about getting things done is not always what is most
important. There is value in allowing others to learn, even if the task is not accomplished as
quickly, efficiently, or effectively. This is a moment when, if you can squelch your inner
perfectionist, and try not to cultivate or, you know, encourage a perfectionist spirit in your
children, that makes life so hard. Patience is a gift that you can give your family. Because
children do remember how they feel more than what you actually say.
So if you can be patient and allow that time to learn, et the child follows you and do things
with you while in the very young years, when they want. They're not gonna want to for that
long. Trust me, they grow up.
There are simple records you can keep as we go through. So, we're gonna take a super-
fast look at this, because record-keeping is something that I know can be intimidating. For
me, I had to create small record-keeping resources. I am not, I'm not a detailed person. I'm
a big picture person. And honestly, if you look at records from my public school years, I look
back at the little comments, it was just a report card. And a few little comments each
semester. It wasn't anything major. And so, I started though, feeling like, oh, I had to keep
you know, huge amounts of stuff. and that's really not true.
So, for each of my boys, I would create a little plan for what they were gonna do that year.
And it became the record. And so I'll show you how to do that. So, for K through 8, I made a
list of what they would read, write, and do, for school that year. I would get this list basically,
from the different kinds of curriculum and book lists that we were using. We used a lot of
Sonlight curriculum, S-O-N-L-I-G-H-T curriculum. Just because it was living books based.
And available. But, I also included in here, that field trips, activities, projects, experiments
for science, things like that. So it's just a one-page list. And for high school, I made a little
more detail, cause you have to make a transcript for high school. So if you're starting off
with a high schooler, you still are doing what the student will read, write, and do in this
class. So, K through 8, what they will read, write, and do in that semester and year. And for
high school, it's a class. And you make a description of the class, usually, if you've
purchased a textbook, you can find a description of the textbook, and it will outline what the
textbook covers and that can be your description.
Then you have curriculum and other resources. Key readings. Writings, and main
assignments. Date completed. And the grade. Because high school is the first place,
usually, you need to give a grade. But it depends on your state law. You will find that out. I
did not do testing or grading except for the state-required test for language arts and math at
the end of the school year. Each school year, our state required, like, the California Test of
Basic Skills or other tests administered for progress in language arts and math. And my kids
and grandkids now, always kinda looked forward to what they called the bubble test.
Because they'd never done these multiple-choice things before. They thought they were fun
and amusing. Because then its fun to see if you could get into the 90s plus percentile. So,
that was always kind of the challenge of the week.
But, this little class profile, if you are talking to a college admissions counselor later, or the
student is, and they say what did you study in that British literature class, or whatever it
happens to be. You will have this all written out. It's done. It's easy. And so for record-
keeping, so simple. You keep a few samples too. Don't keep everything your students do.
That's a temptation if you are someone who's starting out with young children and they have
adorable handwriting samples and drawings and all of that. But each month, if you do keep
it, you're attic will fall in probably. So, keep one sample from each subject each month in a
pocket folder. And then at the end of the year, choose three samples. Just three. From
reach subject. And put them in a student's record binder. just keep a big three-ring binder
with a tab for each grade and put three samples from each subject. Those samples you
choose should show progress from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. So,
beginning, middle, and end of the year, showing progress. Doesn't mean perfection, okay?
So you wanna show how they started the year, so that's not gonna be at the...what they'll
be at the end of the year. So don't try to look for perfect samples starting at the beginning of
the year. Look for progress.
And then, you add progress notes to your...for each subject, to your little records. So, for
example, I had, I made mine into little books. And so I had what they were studying, and the
progress notes. And this is a year. So, you can do it, just on binder paper, on the computer,
or whatever. And your progress notes will be two to three sentences per subject. Try to be
as positive as you can, because your students are going to be inheriting these things and
it's important to let them know they were trying. Then you indicate at the beginning at the
end, their strengths, at the end of each semester, and their focus areas for improvement.
What they could maybe do better. So, and example of strength would say, a strong
foundation in reading aloud is given this child confidence in learning to read. She's gaining
fluency in sounding out words and those slide finishes right there, so I can't finish that.
Focus area for improvement. One, focus on neat accurate consistent lettering in the italic
style, and two, add more detail to narrations. So those were two things for improvement for
the next semester. Very simple. Very short. And that's a simple record to keep. You can do
If you keep a record...a reading log for each student, that's a lovely thing to do. Keeping
reading lists help students remember what they've read. They see accumulative effect of
wow, I actually have learned a lot. I have read a lot. And that's a tremendously important
thing for a lot of students, especially if they've struggled. But they can also make a comment
on why they liked it or why they didn't.
You can do record-keeping by photo as well. So, this was a photo I came across on the
Ambleside Online Facebook group, and this mom, she gave me permission to use the
photo. She had posted a picture. She, at the end of each year, she has posted pictures of
what her son studied, wrote and drew, read, wrote, and drew, through whatever year it is.
This is his year four, Ambleside Online, year four. And he has read all these books. Some of
them they read as a family. He drew the maps. He's' drawn other things. Part of the
Charlotte Mason style of education is to have a rich and full experience. The artist they've
studied is depicted by this art print here. And they also have composers and music they've
studied. So, this child is getting a tremendous education by doing this.
So support and friendship. This is a whole new world for a lot of us. I know it was for me
when I came, I did not have support and people to do this with. I didn't, you know, and back
then, the internet was just not a thing that was easily accessible for laypeople. So support
and friendship can be a life-saver, especially if you're an extrovert. It's not a journey you
have to take alone. There are co-ops, mom's groups, mom's reading groups, nature groups,
all kinds of things.
So, if you have questions about homeschooling, find experienced people who enjoyed
homeschooling. And I so encourage you that if you can avoid people who are chronically
negative, didn't enjoy homeschooling, don't; try to not let them affect you. It can be very
discouraging, and not help you move forward with happiness and encouragement. Notice
people's family culture. Learn from families who seem to have very well-adjusted kids and
enjoy one another. And find online support systems that will put you in contact with a lot of
fun people like that. You can find support groups, homeschool, home hyphen school dot
com, has state homeschool groups listed. Some local homeschool groups as well. But you
can also do an internet search for homeschool support group in your community.
And if you are...have chosen a particular method you wanna follow, such as Charlotte
Mason or classical, search for that kind of support group, or a support group related to your
curriculum. Classical Conversations has groups. But they work with a purposely a created
this system to give parents a lot of support. And so you're likely to find a group close to you,
reasonably close. Online as well, is a tremendous amount of support. There are Instagram.
Instagram is a place I try to follow only things that are very encouraging and fun and
learning... things to learn from. So, I have a lot of lettering and Charlotte Mason type
groups, and wild and free, and things like that. So, Charlotte Mason IRL. Real-life on
Instagram. And then there's Ambleside Online and Facebook, and then Circe Institute,
Schole Groups and wild and free. Homeschooling.mom podcasts are a source of
encouragement. There's years of podcasts there. And you can find things on the topics that
you need to know.
Finally, I just wanna encourage you to nurture your child's heart and your own. Children do
remember the atmosphere of the home more than getting a lot of fancy activities done
because, as Charlotte Mason indicated, education's an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.
So important to remember those things. If you would like to read more about creating a
beautiful education, nurturing your child's heart, and so forth, there's two helpful resources I
would suggest. Number one is For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaffer McCaulley. And
the second is Education by Design, Not Default, by Janet Newbury. And, those are things
that can possibly help you as you take this homeschooling journey. It's not easy. But it can
If you have questions about homeschooling that I can answer for you, or help you with, I
may not be able to answer, but I may be able to point you in the right direction. You can go
to my website at EverydayEducation.com, or you can read my blog. There's over ten years
of posts there. It's called DoingWhatMatters.com, and then I have a literature resource site
for people who are studying classic literature. It's called ExcellenceInLiterature.com. And
you see the links on the screen. There's also a downloadable newsletter on the site that has
a variety of articles that you might enjoy, and you can also connect with me on Pinterest
and Facebook. And I have convention specials available at Every Education. And you'll see
them linked on the front page. These are some of the things I've written. Some things I've
written, some things I've published, and some things I share because they're just amazing.
As I mentioned, there's a lot of resources available online and I am providing the slides at
the end and I'll provide the links and the pdf's... you'll see the links and the pdf's that you get
for information about college, curriculums, skilled trades, and even a glossary of people that
you might hear of and wonder about with their related movements and sites. Finally, there
are some rules for study, thirteenth-century rules for study, that I've posted at Everyday
Education. Look for rules for study. These will help you as you create a learning
atmosphere in your home.
I'm glad you came. I'm glad you took the time to listen. I hope I see you at a Great
Homeschool Convention one of these days. And please, enjoy the journey.