Homeschooling by Grace

My niece wrote me a letter asking some questions about homescholing. She’s hoping to homeschool her first grade son, Parker, this fall, and she has three younger children. Here are my answers to her questions; however, I expect to be asking her advice after next year. Pray for her.

I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. We were out of town when your letter arrived, and since I’ve been back I’ve been so busy. I know it’s everybody’s excuse, but I can use it, too, especially when it’s true.

“What curriculum did you use for first grade?”
I can tell you what I used, but a lot depends on where Parker is now academically. To teach my urchins to read, I always used something called Sing, Spell, Read and Write. It’s a phonics, reading, writing, and spelling program, and I’m used to it by now. If Parker is already reading well, he just needs practice. I really like SONLIGHT curriculum; it involves lots of reading out loud and lots of reading for them. However, I wouldn’t start SONLIGHT until he can read unless you want to use their phonics program with which I am unfamiliar. I think you can find SONLIGHT at For math, I use some workbooks called Miquon Math because they’re cheap and kid-friendly. These workbooks cover math through third grade. Oh, you also have to have Cuisenaire rods to go with them. You can purchase both the workbooks and the rods from any homeschool supplier.

“What are daily routines like?”
Daily routines around here involve lots of juggling. I’m trying to keep Zion out of trouble while helping the others with whatever problems they have. Naptime, if you have one is a good time for reading out loud to the older ones. Crock pots are invaluable. My younger children probably spend 1-3 hours total doing school. One hour a day (not necessarily all at the same time) is plenty for a kindergartener or a first grader. After he’s reading, he may want to spend more time reading by himself, and of course, all of them are learning all the time.

“How did you balance?”
Balance, what’s that? Just do the next thing, and try to to do it well. I don’t think I can answer this question. I just keep muddling through.

“How were household duties divided?”
You know your Uncle Tim. He does A LOT around here, including cooking sometimes, changing diapers, reading to children, putting children to bed, and lots more. I don’t know how we divide stuff up; we just both do whatever needs to be done next. And now the older kids help a lot. When Parker gets to be about eight years old, he’ll really be helpful. Until then, you just have to keep training him to help and pretending that he really is helping.

“What were your greatest obstacles?”
I’m lazy, and my children see my faults all the time. My children are also imperfect–a fact which never ceases to amaze me. After all, I spent all this time homeschooling; the least they could do is be perfect!!

“How did you manage them?”
Manage, who said I’m managing? Actually, I just keep praying and trying and starting over again. In fact, my children laugh at me whenever I tell them I have a new plan for keeping the house clean or a new schedule for the new school year. They don’t expect my “new plans” to last for long, but one of these days I’m going to fool them.

“Any advice you can give will be appreciated.”
Sherry’s advice for homeschooling: Take is slow and easy. If you do an hour of school work every day in first grade, whatever curriculum you choose, you’ll be doing plenty. If you do much more than that, he’ll be overwhelmed and so will you. When you get impatient or Parker gets frustrated, put the math or the phonics away and try again later. Learn together and enjoy it. Read lots of books.

1 thought on “Homeschooling by Grace

  1. Good advice!!
    I just spent a morning with another new homeschool mom and she told me that all of the homeschool families she has met do things differently. I told her that is what is wonderful about giving your children a custom education with a mentor-type relationship.
    One hour a day of seat work is more than my little boys can take! We split it up during the day.

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