Homeschooling with four

“So, how’s it going homeschooling four?”  Well, let me tell you.

1.  HomeSCHOOLing.  You define school.  Then let me.

2.  The teacher has two functional boobs and one half-functional brain.  Sometimes.

3.  Five o’clock.  Let’s talk about five o’clock.  There’s big hair band music blaring locker-room loud to soothe a screaming baby who doesn’t like the squeaky, squilly violin which is trying to overcome the sound of the blender in the kitchen while the beeping of the oven is ding-ding-dinging while the five-year-old is trying to write her letters, begging for a snack, not liking the answer, then asking how to spell “Can I move to Grannie’s?”  (Y-E-S.  Yes is the answer.  Let’s sound it out.  Yuh—eh—ess.  Yes.)  Someone is practicing piano with the metronome ticking.  The phone rings and a text comes in.  Aaaah.  Relief when I hear someone pull into the drive.  My husband!  Reinforcements!  I run to the door, shut my eyes, pucker up, and open the door.  It’s the Schwan’s man.  But at least my shirt is buttoned.

4.  You want to know “So how long does it really take you to do school when you homeschool?”  All day. It takes all day.  And then, kind of, not all day at all.  Explain that.

5.  That counts!  That counts!  That counts as school!

6.  Oh, good.  It’s only December.  We still have time to start the first semester.

7.  You don’t want to learn to read?  Well, fine.  I don’t have time to teach you anyhow.  Can you cook?

8.  I wasn’t trained for this.  Maybe a nanny isn’t such a bad idea after all.

9.  Can you say one word?  MESS.  Make it plural.  MESSES.  Some on the floor.  Some in the kitchen.  And some up the back of the baby.

10.  Get in line.  Get in line.  There are three in front of you.

11.  “Get dressed.”  Elapsed time.  “Get dressed.”  Elapsed time.  “I said get dressed.”  Elapsed time.  “DIDN’T I SAY TO GET DRESSED.  WE HAVE TO GO–NOW!”  Dang it.  Now I understand people who wear pajamas while shopping.  I think they were homeschooled.


This school year, my pre-schooler moved up to “kindergarten,” and we added a new baby to the (scribbled) home-education picture.  We’re homeschooling three now with a baby.  Adding a newborn to our homeschooling family of three has produced moments of sheer pandemonium, where I thought, “Stuff her back in!  Stuff her back in!  I can’t do this!”

Mayhem.  Bedlam.  I can laugh, but our homeschooling experience is metamorphosing.   Metamorphosing.  We’re a little rough and ugly right now, but I can see a murky, gray outline through the ratty looking cocoon.  Therein lies a thing of beauty which will rise up on wings and fly away from me.  Beautiful.  My daughters are learning to learn on their own.  Me–I’m learning to trust the homeschooling system an older, wiser mom told me about.  The system that says a child will learn if you watch for their needs and allow them to.

Yesterday I was coming down on myself for a miserable day of homeschooling.  It literally felt like I hadn’t done anything school-wise all day.  Positive, objective, self-talk is important.  I stepped back and tallied our accomplishments (actually, my daughters’ accomplishments–I was busy being lunch) for the day.  I looked at all that had happened without me.  The girls plowed independently through math and grammar.  They practiced violin and guitar.  The Spanish teacher came.  One attended dance lessons.  One finished reading Harry Potter.  Another e-mailed her grandfather about a book she was reading.  The oldest taught the next two how to use the sewing machine to sew a simple felt purse.  They looked up how to make real chocolate with cocoa butter and cocoa powder and made Christmas chocolates.  Without me.  Without me.  That’s quite a day.

The days of sitting down for three hours together to do school are gone.  Someone once told me, “You’ll get a routine you like–and then it will CHANGE.”  Oh, does it change every single day now.  I quit work to gain more control of our lives, homeschooling, and family, but the whispering winds keep chasing me, never stopping, forcing me to see that, yes, it was a shift of PRIORITIES, but not a gain of control.

School lasted from 9 am to 9 pm.

Wishing you a peaceful home full of happy chaos.


22 thoughts on “

  1. Boundless

    > … but not a gain of control.

    Subject yourself to a few hours of Common Core at your local government mind control and spirit destruction compound (misleadingly called public school) – if, of course, they allow you to observe. You may get a re-invigorated appreciation for the control you really have.

  2. lakenormanprep

    I am actually laughing out loud! Sounds about right. I once wrote that the only consistent part of homeschooling is that everything changes….all the time. I have learned to put my type A personality on the back burner, although every once in a while it pops back out. It is amazing how the kids step up when you need them too. You definitely had a productive homeschool day! An amazing one if I may say. Love it!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hello! Yes, I am grateful we homeschool. I heard that they’re having parent sessions to teach parents how Common Core teaches math so parents can help “the right way.” Interesting…did the Core experts invent math? Do they have the inside track? Has math changed in the last 10 years? Boundless is right.

  3. Denise

    I am so proud of you. Reading this I chuckled. You are a good mommy, you are strong, patient, and most of all you are teaching your children to become leaders, musicians, teachers, seamstress. Demonstrating how to handle chaos is a very good lesson to be taught. I work in mental health and many have not been able to handle stress confidently. So through all your muck and more just be reassured you are teaching strong willed young ladies who are going to become amazing women in the not so distance future.
    Love D.D.

  4. mommytrainingwheels

    “Stuff her back in”! Hahaha! I’ve thought that too at times.

    The public school system isn’t all bad. Though, I am admittedly biased as I teach in it. What I love about the idea of homeschooling is the fact that everything and anything can be an opportunity to learn and that is something that I feel is sadly lacking in the public school system. Another part of me is scared shitless at the thought of homeschooling my children (there’s never been a question in my mind that they’d go to public school).

    I don’t want to start a debate about which type of schooling is better. The truth is, the best kind is the kind that works for your family: “you do what works for you as a parent” and homeschooling definitely seems to be working for you!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      We just need another set of hands (and brains attached), don’t we?!

      Yep. We love homeschooling. It’s the tops for us! We chose it for its flexibility in lots of areas. We have this newer thing called Common Core here in public schools in the States. Have you heard of it? Common Core is causing LOTS of angst. Parents are really struggling with it. It is very frustrating, and what is more frustrating is how, if we are not careful, Common Core regulations may apply to homeschooling. Which would then tell me how (exactly) to teach, what to teach, when to teach it, what order to teach it in, require me to use only certain textbook and certain standardized tests.

      From reading your posts, you’d be a great homeschooling mom! 🙂 ~~Terri

      1. mommytrainingwheels

        Oh yes, another set of hands would be lovely. And a back up brain too (I really could have used one of those last week)!

        I can understand how Common Core can be a scary thought for homeschholing parents. I mean, if you chose the path of homeschooling (serious hats off for that!), it’s for the flexibility that it offers (both in how you teach and when to teach). I would not be pleased if the someone were to put strict rules about how to organize everything pertaining to homeschooling. But then again, I’m one of the oddballs in my school who tells her students “if it works your way, then you don’t have to use my way” so I already don’t like being told what to do even though I am in the system.

        A question (cause I know little to nothing about homeschooling) are your children required to take standardized tests at certain points in their schooling?

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        It varies from state to state. My state of South Dakota requires standardized testing every two years. You can use the one the public school provides you or get another standardized test of your choosing but report scoring to the school district. When we lived in South Carolina, we didnt have standardized testing but we had to submit our curriculum description and provide “report cards.” I can’t remember, what age groups do you work with? Does Canada have national standards or province (?) standards? How much independence do you get in what and how you teach? On phone, hope typos arent too bad!

      3. mommytrainingwheels

        It’s nice that you get to pick your standardized tests.

        In Canada, education is the responsibility of each province, so the standardized tests are provincial. They happen in language arts and math in grades 2, 4, & 6 and then again in grades 8, 10 & 11 (our high school system goes up to grade 11 because there is college between high school and university) in various disciplines.

        As far as independence goes, it depends. In our school board, all teachers that teach, say, grade 9 social studies, have to use the same manual and workbook. If a teacher doesn’t want to use it, then they have to create everything they use.

        With regards to what and how to teach, teachers are required to teach the elements described by the educational program, but (in our school – it varies from school to school), they have a lot of leeway in both how they teach it and when they teach it. The school board has tried on numerous occasions to dictate exactly how teachers should teach and the order in which they should teach the elements they are responsible for, but the union has always defended its teachers in that regard citing their right to professional autonomy. It’s not a perfect system, but it works most of the time.

        As far as homeschooling goes, homeschooling parents are required to submit a portfolio of what each of their children did to their local school (ie: the school that their children would go to if they weren’t homeschooled). This portfolio is then assessed by someone at the school (I’ve assessed a few) who determines what level the student is at.

        I’m teach ressource in high school. Basically, I work with students who have learning difficulties (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and those who just have trouble at school) in small groups or go give punctual lessons in the groups of teens who have trouble at school. I basically work with 13 to 17 year olds.

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        “The school board has tried on numerous occasions to dictate exactly how teachers should teach and the order in which they should teach the elements they are responsible for, but the union has always defended its teachers in that regard citing their right to professional autonomy. It’s not a perfect system, but it works most of the time.”

        That is a relief that the union defends the teachers in this regard! Dynamics are never predictable and to try to peg them as constant is a set-up for failure.

        Thank you for your very informative response! Blessings on you and your work!

  5. Jhanis

    Whew! You are doing one hell of a job in there! I salute you Terri, a full day with the kids drives me almost near the edge. When I went to Manila last October, I stayed with a friend who homeschools her 3 kids and we talked about there routine. She actually said that they do not have a specific routine, sometimes they start at 5am sometimes at 9am. They also go around the city and go to museums and zoos depending on what their lesson is for the day. She also mentioned her kids go to a homeschooling group for PE and music lessons. It’s not teacher led. It sounds perfect for my 3yo. She is not thriving at school you know. Well, she is socially but not academically. She flunked math but I’m not worried. Okay I am but I try to remember she’s 3. 🙂

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      My routine, although it wasn’t exceptionally strict last year, just got bombed this year. Shattered. In shards. I’m coping with loss of control of my zoo! 🙂

      Your lines about your daughter made me smile. My kids went to preschool. My oldest was very shy. They had “parent-teacher” conferences, and they told me they couldn’t tell what my M1 was learning because she didn’t talk much or answer their questions. Ha! Ha! I just wanted her there to play with new toys and give me a break! (Maybe they were worried because my pesky husband wrote on the sheet they sent out at the beginning of the year, when they asked “What do you expect your child to learn…”–my husband wrote “Calculus.”) So, yeah. Okay. She’s only 3! Math??? Those northern Scandinavian countries won’t even let formal learning start until about age SEVEN! SEVEN! Isn’t 7 minus three, four? Well your daughter has four more years of partying it up! Personally, after my first child, I learned to “listen” to my child. My third one gets to set her own pace for now. (She’s 5.) Essay over now. ~~Terri

  6. FitMomPam

    You are a stronger woman that I am! I would rather teach my 650+ middle school kids (that don’t belong to me) than home school the 2 I gave birth to!
    Bless you!

  7. myjourneythrume

    Love love love this post! I think you’re amazing for homeschooling never mind with a baby in tow too! Your girls achieved yesterday more than I did at school in a whole week. You are a amazing Mom doing the very best you can 😊


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