Back to school!

In our house, this is a slight exaggeration.  We learn all the time and everywhere.

From baking cakes to the Field Museum, we incorporate learning and the life-long skill of discovery in every aspect of our day.

We home-school.

Homeschooling - Gustoff family in Des Moines 020
Homeschooling – Gustoff family in Des Moines 020 (Photo credit:

The first question I get from friends, neighbors and family is: what is home-schooling?

Let’s leave off the “home” part for just a moment and concentrate on the “schooling” part.

As a parent, my hope and joy is to raise independent, productive and friendly little people who will, eventually, become independent, productive and friendly adults.  To do so, I need to educate (or school) my children beginning with the first habits of childhood: take turns, say please and thank you, put the seat down, wash your hands…

You get the point.

New habits, by definition, are hard to establish and very easy to break ( I have been trying for a long time to give up my coffee…not an easy task).  It takes time, patience and a lot of repetition from the teacher.  And it requires an able, ready and willing student.

As a teacher, I gauge both the readiness level and the abilities of my children.. As a Mother, I provide an interesting and stress-free environment for future success.

We work on one habit at a time while maintaining the already established ones.  Here is how learning to read worked for our family:

  • we started reading aloud to our oldest the day we took her home from the hospital;
  • reading became a part of the “quiet time”, set aside everyday, after lunch and a walk with the dog;
  • she was introduced to the friendly librarians, at our local library, as soon as she could talk;
  • “Beginning Reading at Home” was the first reading program we used at the beginning of our home-schooling days and we never looked back;
  • we share with the entire family snippets from books, articles or newspapers.

Next, I will talk about the “home” part of the home-schooling.


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