By Molly Craig interviewed by The Mother Loving Future, Image courtesy of Molly Craig
Have you ever wondered what homeschooling entailed and if it is right for your family?
We were lucky enough to sit down with homeschool teacher and mom of four Molly Craig and quiz her on a few questions we had about the world of homeschooling.
Names and ages of all your kiddos:
We have four kiddos..Our daughters Kate is 10.5 years old & Mabel is 8 years old, and our sons Ted & Max are 4.5 & 2 years old
Why do you choose to homeschool your kids?
I was inspired to homeschool when Kate was about 2.5 years old and a handful of her friends were registering for preschool. I was suddenly struck by the realization that we were having so much fun learning together, and she was such a bright, fun kid, and I didn't want to miss out on that time together. We had a zoo membership and went almost weekly. We visited my parents' 21-acre farm every Wednesday, and she LOVED it there. We went to the library and park, and we had regular playdates with friends...I didn't want to sacrifice our freedom and flexibility, and I really wanted to continue learning together. What really sealed the deal for me was reading the incredible book, The Well-Trained Mind (link below).
What is the most challenging aspect of homeschooling?
I think for me it's the same challenge as with motherhood in general...balancing my time and trying to give everyone the attention they need. Juggling housework and schoolwork, making time to play with the kids and also prep any lessons, taking time to relax and also scheduling dates with my husband, etc. I imagine it's a lot like having a part-time, work-from-home job.
What are your top three tips for making learning fun for children?
How do you deal with the "social skill" aspect of schooling kids at home?
That's the most common question people ask, but it's really not an issue for most homeschoolers. We have regular playdates with friends, our homeschool charter has weekly classes onsite that my daughters love attending with friends, we meet other homeschooling friends at the park. Honestly, children learn a lot of socialization skills at home with siblings. A lot of businesses are now offering homeschool classes during the day, so your kids can take dance or music, art or sports classes during the school day hours with other homeschooled kids. Plus, most homeschoolers are interacting with a variety of ages daily, rather than mostly just children of the same age, so they tend to be comfortable interacting with grown-ups and teens, or playing with babies and toddlers.
Is the curriculum designed for you by the state? How does it work?
In California there are three different methods that I know:
How do the children respond to this style of schooling?
My children love learning at home, but of course, we have difficult days or days when they'd rather veg, or play, or do anything but a math or spelling lesson! Ha. But, if we're really in a funk, I just ease up and switch gears and come back to that lesson later in the day or even the next day. Having that kind of flexibility is really such a blessing.
What is your favorite part of homeschooling?
It's so much fun learning & relearning alongside my munchkins! There are so many fun history stories I'm reading, cool science experiments we're doing, and so many new and interesting things to discover.
How do you manage bouncing between your "teacher hat" and "mom hat"?
For us, there isn't any distinction. Learning has become part of our everyday life. We visit my parents' farm and then later look up interesting facts in our farm anatomy or nature anatomy books. I read aloud to my kiddos from a novel or our poetry book or history book while they eat lunch. We do science experiments with my husband on his days off. Life and learning just blend together:)
What advice would you give a parent who is looking into the idea of homeschool?
How do you school 4 kids who are all different ages and developmental levels?
It's definitely a circus some days! But we'll do our more hands-on, structured lessons during Max's nap, and more often than not, one of the girls will play with the boys while I do a lesson with the other, and then they switch. Or I read aloud to all four of them while they build with duplos or magformers. Sometimes if we've had an especially hectic week, we'll use a Saturday that my husband is working as a catch-up day to finish lessons we didn't complete, or we'll use one of his days off as an opportunity for him to play with the boys while I work with the girls.
How do you think our school system could change for the better based on what you've observed as a homeschooling mom?
We don't homeschool because of any issues with the school system, and I have a lot of friends who are teachers. There are so many great public, private and charter schools out there, all designed differently to meet children's needs. We choose to homeschool because we want to spend these precious years together while our children are young.
Do your children participate in the decision to homeschool? Do they have an option? How do they feel about it?
We have a lot of friends and some family members who homeschool, so it wasn't an issue for Kate when we started, it didn't seem strange or unusual to her. Our kiddos say they love learning at home, and they also really enjoy their Monday morning charter school classes. If one of our kids ever wanted to start attending school, we'd find a school that could meet his or her needs and still align with our philosophy. I've heard of homeschool charters that offer a 3/2 split (3 days at home & 2 days on site at the charter school campus) and I think that'd be really neat! A great way to focus on learning at home and still have in-class experience, plus even more support.
What are YOUR questions, comments, stresses and victories in the homeschooling journey? Please let us know in the comments.