Starting-Over:Homeschooling A Student From A Public Or Private School

I have done it, again.  I overwhelmed one of my dear friends by sharing my experience of fifteen years plus of teaching, at one sitting.  Please accept my apology my dear T.  One…more…time… And with feelings, this time.

A Child's Garden of Verses
A Child’s Garden of Verses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are only two things I feel the need to mention about home-schooling before we start:

  • it is NOT school in your home.  Because your goal is to educate your children.  That implies learning.  Children learn all the time regardless of space or time.  They love to discover. As such, the main goal in educating children is to support and develop their innate thirst for discovery and learning.  There is no need to teach them that.
  • Learn to decompress and slow-down to their speed.  Little ones know how to really enjoy life.  Take the time to “smell the roses”, wade in the lake, pick flowers and discover the world around you through their untarnished eyes.

Let me walk you through one of our days, long ago.

It is time for bed.  Gather your little ones around you and read from their little Bible.  Allow each of them to choose several favorites.  Then, when the reading is done, kneel together and pray to our Lord, Lady and their favorite saints.

Once the little ones are asleep, spend no more than an hour preparing for the next day (remember that you need the strength to walk, run and play alongside your children).

I still check on three things before I turn in for the night:

  • dishes: I like my sink clean so I can start breakfast without delay;
  • menu planning: take 10 minutes to see what you can cook for the next day’s meals; defrost meat, put the beans to soak or whatever will put meals on the table with minimum delay (don’t forget to use your Crock-Pot);
  • school day: daily instructions include Penmanship or Copy-work, Phonics, Reading and Math; check on lessons and material needed for the next day’s work; weekly lessons are included for Nature/Science, History/Geography, Art and Music plus plenty of outdoor time to explore; make sure that there are plenty of “school” toys for your toddler (toys she-he can use ONLY during the time the other children are in school).

In the morning, take a long walk (after the oldest helps with the dishes while you get everybody else ready; include snacks and water). Then settle down to quiet time right after lunch (and more dishes for your little helper).  These are some of our reading favorites:

Front cover
Front cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winnie the Pooh series by AA Milne (Ernest H.Shepard)

Beatrix Potter series

The Little House by Virginia Burton

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney

Stone Soup and other folk tale retellings by Marcia Brown

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

A Child’s Illustrated Bible

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by
Tasha Tudor

A good collection including classic stories and folktales
such as The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
The Three Billy Goats Gruff

A good collection of Aesop’s Fables, such as the one illustrated by Milo Winter

A nice Mother Goose collection or versions such as those by Rojankovsky ,
Marguerite De Angeli  or Tasha Tudor , or Lavender’s Blue, a collection of nursery rhymes compiled by Kathleen
Lines, illustrated by Harold Jones , Here Comes Mother Goose , My Very First Mother Goose

Once your toddler or baby is napping, work for no more than 45 minutes with the oldest on Math, Phonics, Penmanship and one of the weekly lessons.  For example, review the plants, trees, insects…seen during the long walk (warning: you might need to find some good nature guides to help you answer all their questions) or read the biographies of George Washington, Buffalo Bill, Benjamin Franklin (by Ingri D’Aulaire).  The following books served us well for  Nature and Science study: The Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Botsford Comstock), James Herriot’s Treasury for Children,The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Thornton Burgess).

You accomplish all that learning.  Still, there is a small voice wondering about what a child should know.  Here is a list of “attainments” published by a web site ( dedicated to the work of a 19th century educator:

“A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six” ( a reprint of a curriculum outline from a Charlotte Mason school in the 1890’s):

1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read–what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundaries of their own home
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English, and 3 from early Roman history (my note here, we may want to substitute early American for early English!)
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, color and shape
14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own “pets”–rabbit, dog or cat.
16. to name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.

If I neglected to answer any of your questions, please drop me a line.  I am always delighted to help.


6 thoughts on “Starting-Over:Homeschooling A Student From A Public Or Private School

  1. I too, like the kitchen clean in the morning. Every night, I scrub my ancient farmhouse sink with AJAX and let it sit overnight. Then I just rinse in the morning. Very nice and white. Plus, the sink isn’t out of service being disinfected during the day when I need it most.

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words MissesC.
    I have the nature science book you suggested in my Barnes and Noble (on- line) shopping bag. Science has not been going well. My husband just struggles with making the time in the evening to do a hands on science lesson. With working two jobs he just wants to relax. I am trying to get that “classroom at home” mentality out of my mind…I keep thinking I have to prove to “the system” that I am jumping all those hoops, you know? We love being outside and nature so I think that Nature Study Handbook will work well and more importantly be enjoyable!
    Thanks again and enjoy your weekend!

    1. You are more than welcome. I am enjoying our “adult talk” since I am spending my days around little people. Please don’t worry about “proving the system wrong”. Concentrate on the “education” part. My husband is a music teacher who has no teaching job due to the economy and job cuts. He holds two jobs, just like your beloved husband, and has little time to help with the school. SO, I do all the teaching but the violin lessons and choir. It seems like your little students are about the same age with my Joey (12). We do Math, Reading, Copy-work, Violin and Latin (just start it) every day. Then, we tend to concentrate on Science, History and Geography and Language for three times a week. I just changed the schedule from a daily dose to a weekly dose because my daughter does not get one hour lessons. She either dislikes doing it or spends 5 hours on one subject. So, we go with the flow, again. The best thing about homeschooling is adjusting to the needs of the students and the time of the parent. Enjoy sharing your knowledge and dreams with them. In a classroom situation, every hour produces about 10-15 minutes of actual learning. You are doing GRAND. keep on teaching them independence and a love of discovery and they will be fine. When it comes to your dislike of math, I can help (I am math tutor). Let me know about the likes and dislikes of your children and the math books you are using or used. I might be able to guide you toward an easier answer for your math fear.

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s