10 FAQ’s!

In the last few months there have been quite a few people ask me about the finer points of home schooling. The where’s, what for’s and hows’. I have only been at  this a year and am by NO means an expert and there are probably better written blogs out there on this subject….but here goes…(keep in mind when I refer to “my girls” they are middle school, and “my son” is starting Kindergarten.)


1. How do you know what to teach?

There are a few ways. Mobile County Public School’s website actually lists by WEEK what the children will be being taught and it is possible to try to follow that. Most of the curriculum you can buy is also broken up into grade/age levels. When it comes to upper middle and high school the choice broadens, much as it does in public school, as you start to choose a path. What you will find, I think though, is the BEST way is to follow your child. My youngest is 5 years old and already knows the first half of most kindergarten curriculum. My older girls came out of Public School and don’t know as much as I think they should. So one will get sped up, and the others got more review.  Choosing curriculum was THE most daunting part when I got started so I truly suggest gloaming onto a veteran Home School mama and visiting Home school FB pages and just start asking questions!

Mobile County Public School curriculum schedule.


2.When do you know to test/move on?

Some people test and some don’t. I do, but I am still half a foot into the “school” mindset. Also my girls LOVE grades and seeing a number value to their work. Some kids don’t need this and as long as you know they are getting it it’s all good. That being said every curriculum I have looked at has a test part at the end of sections and you move on when they get it. Some of the math this year we raced through, able to do two lessons in one day. Others we spent three days on ONE concept! THAT right there is the best part to me! The ability to keep your child engaged when it’s so easy it’s boring/easy, and the ability to slow it all down and focus when it’s tougher!


3. How do you structure each day?

HAHAHAHAHA. No really, structure isn’t really our strong suit. I started the year structured….ended it more fluidly and much more happy. We do have a starting point. For us it’s 8:30am. A friend’s daughter, who is very independent gets up at 6am and is finished early as she gets through her stuff quickly. Others have told me they start as late as 10am (or later) as their kids concentrate better and learn more in the afternoon evenings. As a NOT morning person I get that. My kids have ALWAYS been morning people. When we are home their assignments are listed and they initial when they are done. One of my girls works very quickly the other is as SLOW as molasses in winter! We do start the day with CNN student news to keep up on current events and just get started. SOME days there is a journal topic on the board. My son has to finish his work in the morning and in a  designated span of time. I help him a lot with his right now because he is so young but he LOVES the hands on and he does worksheets and cut and glue, and mazes and math at his own little table. He works very independently, usually only needing to be refocused every 7 minutes or so. LOL. His “structure” is still a work in progress as I figure out the best way for him to get the most out of what we are doing! But ALL of this goes out the window on co-op days and field trip days. then we work around what we have for time. It gets a LITTLE crazy sometimes and the do have night work on days they don’t finish early but it’s working for us.

mrs mama

4. How do you balance being MOM versus being TEACHER?

This one threw me a little. The thing is I have always BEEN teacher. So has their dad, and their grandparents. Even when they were in public school Anna would have conversations with her great grandpa about him being in WWII. Nana taught them bugs and plants from books and her backyard. I taught my kids their colors by what we saw driving in the car or playing on the playground (look at that GREEN grass and the BLUE bird.). When Nancy Pelosi was elected first woman Speaker of the House I was the one that dragged them to the TV to see and understand. Museums and Exploreums and arts and crafts and nature hunts  have always been a part of their lives. So I guess there is no versus. Mom is teacher. Always 🙂

5. “GAWD mom I will GET to it!! Just leave me ALONE?!” What do you do with the attitude?

There is the attitude. And eye rolling. And body slouching. And foot stomping. And all around teenager angst. BUT Battles are also picked and punishments are much harder to take. Being grounded before meant no biggie as they got to hang out with friends at school for 8 hours a day 5 days a week anyway. NOW being grounded means missing out on awesome field trips and clubs and parties……and seeing friends. As the year has gone on and I have felt less guilt about pulling them from events and they have realized that I will, the need to has become fewer and farther between. The thing is they WANT to learn. They ASK to know MORE. They come to me and tell me how this assignment made them think of that one and look how it all comes together and they are SO excited! They also have the (relative) freedom of choosing where they do their work and how long they have to take. That freedom seems to help too.

6. Do you standardize test them?

I did not this year, but will next year. As a matter of fact many of their HSing friends just completed SAT’s this week. Whether you have to do this or not varies by state. AL does not require this, but I will use it to make sure where we are but also to make sure they are on course to be able to do well on an ACT to get into college.


7. What do you do when they reach the level in a subject that is beyond your ability?

This hasn’t happened yet, as it has only taken a quick look over to refresh my memory on most of this stuff. But it will happen soon. Here is the thing, my older daughter has a bit of a math anxiety. This means that no way, no how will she EVER ask questions in front of the whole class.  I was told point-blank last year that if she did NOT ask questions in class she would fail. Some of you know her and her stubborn streak when it comes to being a focal point…..threat of failing was not incentive enough. Short of some major corporal punishment, that still might not matter, she wasn’t going to budge. So when we looked into this home schooling we found AMAZING teacher led videos in so many different curriculums. We are currently using Mastermath.com the owner of this site provides video lessons that can be re-watched, worksheets, and tests for free. For a SMALL fee he offers tutoring and quarterly exams. But these aren’t the only resources. They are TRULY endless. So if a subject is more than they know or get from the curriculum we have provided they do researching…and learn even more while at it.

8.Will they/can they finish early and graduate early?

Yes and no and I don’t know! There is story going around about a home schooling family that has many children and they have them on a track that they all go to college by age 12 (and they are from AL!)! Their daughter is set to be the youngest daughter in the United states soon! That’s very cool. Not so sure we are going to be that good. LOL They might graduate a little early and I am hoping to get them into college courses while they are still in high school so they will get a feel for college and have some courses under their belt when they are official. All of this is playing by ear and by ability. I didn’t keep them home to go super sonic through school but to make sure they got the best education I could give. So it’s more about quality than speed……but if we can do both, that’s great too!


9. Your girls are so close together, did you hold one back or speed one up to get them in the same grade?

How you choose to place your children is completely up to you. Here is how our decision shook out. My oldest had been at a magnet school for 6th grade. It taught her courses at a 7th grade level. However, she “failed” out of there with a D in Math. So this year she would have been placed in 7th grade in a regular public school. My youngest, a National Elementary Honor Society member, was accepted into the same magnet school and would have been doing 7th grade level work for 6th grade, so it seemed only natural to put them both through 7th grade level work. I don’t consider it holding back or bumping up either……but keeping them on the course they were set on anyway. Again, the BEST part about home schooling is the ability to tailor to your child’s needs!

justin school

10. What is the plan for your youngest since he hasn’t ever been in public school?

The most interesting thing about this school year is that as it has drawn to a close so many people have approached me about my 5-year-old and assumed I would put him into the system. I mean, they get the girls, middle school is awful!! But Kindergarten…..he needs friends and fun and basics, and some of these people haven’t been in a public school in a while. There is no more recess, even PE is structured. There isn’t a great deal of fun time as everything is geared towards testing and learning more for testing. This may not be every school but this is what I was seeing. We do co-op which is a weekly meeting of home school kids to do parent led classes. Some co ops offer course taught by college professors! Justin already has friends at that co-op AND playdates AND field trips. I have heard of exclusively home schooled kids asking to go to public school and if he asks we will cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now he has no interest and loves what we are doing. I am also frequently told by the co-op teachers how well-behaved he is….I must be doing SOMEthing right!

Ok….that’s a LOT of information. If you have any more questions I will answer them here or on fb or phone calls or girls night out. It’s a little gross how excited I am still over this decision and what we do, so I will talk you ear off about it! This is NOT something that is for everybody but I DO believe it is for more people than think it is and we would love more friends in on this with us!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jenifer
    May 14, 2013 @ 08:38:40

    We have always HSed and I think your enthusiasm is quite contagious! I need a good dose of your attitude! This is beautifully written!


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