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The 2020 Homeschool Experiment… Check In

This year, I am homeschooling four kids. And I know nothing about homeschooling kids.

But, 13 years ago I knew nothing about parenting, and the doctors still sent me home with a baby. So… just like then, we’re making some mistakes and getting a few things right.

With everyone in the middle of the messy school year, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this Jarvis experiment… so let me tell you about it.

Why did we decide to homeschool?

When in-person school was cancelled last year, I had the opportunity to see just how my kids were doing. I could see exactly what they were good at, where they struggled and how they fit in at school.

For the younger kids, I had to be available to help throughout the day with virtual school… so I decided that we could use this same time to customize what the kids were learning.

I started by homeschooling the preschooler and 3rd grader… and then the 6th grader and 8th grader decided to join our little school.

Also, it was a good time for us. Six years ago I would have been working my engineering job, traveling a lot and be unavailable for daily homeschool. Right now, it just worked.

What resources are we using?

Everything I know about homeschooling has come from the awesome parents that email me (because of this website) and from The Homeschool Store.

The Homeschool Store website has a lot of information, including which subjects each age should be learning. The Facebook page has even more good information, including videos on how to get started, set the right pace and the records you need to keep. And when I went to the store, the staff was very helpful in helping me pick out the best curriculum.

The two middle kids are using the workbooks from The Homeschool Store and doing nothing on the computer (except Mathnasium). I like that they are not online and that I was able to pick out the right level of material.

The preschooler is mostly playing during the day and slowly working through a preschool notebook. (I am a fan of learning through play for my little kids!)

The 8th grader is doing a mix of lessons. I took the list of recommended subjects from The Homeschool Store website… and then customized it with different materials. Some are on paper, some are online (like a Duke University Coursera science course) and he handles most everything on his own.

And finally, the three big kids still take Mathnasium. (You can read all about it HERE.) This has gotten them so confident in math that I feel that even if I screw up every other part of this school year, they will be solid this subject.

How’s it going?

It’s good. Sometimes I get frustrated and sometimes the kids complain… but that would happen even if I wasn’t the teacher. (Six people, one small house, lots of together time… that’s how it goes!)

Our homeschooling takes about half the time of a virtual school day… and we’ve been mixing in short roadtrips and doing our work on the go. It’s shaping up to be a memorable year.

I like that I can customize the work for each kid. Not only did I pick the curriculums that I thought they would like… but if one lesson has them doing a bunch of things they’ve mastered, I substitute something that they need help with. (So if the workbook has them doing 10 long division problems, I have them do two… and then I add in something they are still learning.)

I also like that we can get ahead on our lessons and spend school days on field trips or doing special projects.

For example, my third grader has been spending a lot of Fridays with grandpa… working through the STEM notebook. They’ve built towers and cantilevers and aqueducts and water filtration systems and… and they have really had fun.

Will we continue homeschooling?

For now, we’re trying to make the most of 2020 (and 2021). Once the world returns to normal, I’ll let the kids pick what they want to do!

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