Home schooling Part 2: One family’s view
Today, we have the opportunity to get an inside look at a family that is currently home schooling their children. Grace Garber home-schools her two sons, ages nine and six and has been married to her husband for 16 years.
A little about Grace’s family
“My husband has been in the land surveying business since before we were married, a profession he is passionate about,” Grace said. “He signed on with a general contractor two years ago, which presented him with a great opportunity financially, building his career and providing our family a unique opportunity to experience living in other parts the country. We’ve recently made our first transfer with his company to Oklahoma and so our journey continues.”
Grace realized after losing both of her parents in the last few years that the idea of raising her boys close to her parents and where she grew up was no longer an option. She decided to jump head first into the moving lifestyle and embrace it as a way of dealing with the loss of her parents.
Why they chose home schooling
Grace began home schooling both boys during their preschool years after her older sister home-schooled two of her children during their early elementary years.
“[My sister’s] son went on to serve in the Navy and her daughter will be attending a Christian college this fall to become a school teacher herself,” Grace said. “I believe we pass on to our children the things we are most passionate about in life.”
Grace, along with her husband, also chose home schooling for their family because of the different kind of environment that is present in schools today.
“We live in a changing world,” Grace said. “I remember one day in particular. The morning of December 14, 2012. We were having one of those mornings when things just felt off kilter. I remember saying a silent prayer to God asking Him to show me that this path I’ve chosen (to home-school) is what I should be doing. Literally just a few minutes later, my husband called from work and told me to turn on the news. Tears filled my eyes as I learned that 20 elementary students and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.”
Grace says she will never forget that morning and could not imagine the grief those families felt knowing that their children would not be coming home from school that day. From that moment, she reaffirmed her belief that home schooling was right for their family.
“That morning put fear in every American who sends their children off to school,” Grace said. “We, of course, don’t live our lives in fear, but embrace our faith and take more advantage of the options before us. We are thankful to live in a country where our freedoms allow us the privilege to educate our children.”
A typical day of home schooling
A typical day of school for Grace’s family starts at 10 a.m. After her sons wake up and get breakfast, they do chores and focus on two hours of school time before they take a break for lunch at noon. Following lunch, the boys get a short play break and then begin school again around 1 p.m. and usually work another two hours until around 3 or 3:30 p.m. Their family uses a Christian-based home schooling program known as ABEKA.
“The workbooks are colorful and guide us through each lesson effortlessly,” Grace said. “The boys sit across from each other at our dining room table where I have a chalkboard and my favorite, charming Norman Rockwell print of a teacher with her class. I sit at the end of the table so that I’m right there to oversee their progress.”
Even though their system is structured and seems very organized, Grace admits a few tidbits that most moms can relate to.
“I don’t sit down at the head of the table until I’ve brewed myself a cup of herbal tea in my Keurig machine,” Grace said. “Of course there are times when I feel pulled both directions when they both need me, but it’s an opportunity for them both to learn patience in waiting while I help the other. This allows reflection time for them both and I’ve found that at times, they end up figuring it out themselves, which is rewarding.”
Why they love home schooling
Grace believes that home schooling isn’t just about the benefit to her two boys, but she truly believes it strengthens each member of their family.
“I’m more disciplined because of taking on the challenge and I’ve found a love for it that I didn’t know I had,” Grace said. “My boys are closer as brothers because they spend so much valuable time together. My husband has great peace of mind when he goes off to work knowing they are learning what they need to learn without the distraction that traditional school can at times have. He doesn’t have to come home to undo all the negatives that they may have faced that day.”
How to know if home schooling is right for you
Grace shared some things to consider before you decide to home-school:
- Self-examine yourself and prioritize your life so that you have as few distractions as possible.
- Discuss where your spouse can help out to balance the areas where you feel you may be inadequate.
- Be prepared to give up your alone time and organize your to do list daily so that you run an efficient home that doesn’t take away from your children.
- Reward your children for their accomplishments. Our boys react well to achievement charts. Their favorite reward is computer time.
- Reward yourself. Sit down after the schooling is done for the day. I reward myself by having another cup of tea and watching HGTV or the Food Network.
- Put the cell phone aside and let your voicemail pick up the calls unless it’s something urgent. When you home-school, you become a full-time teacher., whether you have a teaching degree or not.
- Be prepared to budget each year for your school curriculum and any other extracurricular activities or classes.
- Be sure to study up on home schooling laws by each state as they differ. See HSLDA for these laws.
- Cut yourself some slack for an occasional bad day, but expect to have good days. The way we take on each day is the compass to how our children will learn.
- Don’t push your child too much when they struggle. Look for outside tutoring when necessary. An outside authority can at times make the difference.
- For siblings that are different ages, encourage that they play together cooperatively, but when possible, arrange play dates for them with friends their age. It’s helpful to their maturity when they connect with their peers.
- Make each move with the company an adventure, a learning experience.
Customize to fit your needs
Grace believes there are limitless ways to customize home schooling to fit your family. One of the many ways their family does this is through their family vacations.
“We’ve been able to visit many historical homes of beloved U.S. presidents, like the home of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Va., the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln in Indiana and the home of John Adams in Boston, Mass.,” Grace said. “Prior to trips like this, we will often study these great men so that the boys feel like they know them and then we walk in their footsteps with the history that’s been preserved for our benefit.”
Grace also incorporates music into school. Both of her sons graduated from an early music education program called Kindermusic. Their older son plays violin currently and her younger son is still deciding on an instrument to pursue. Another added bonus of home schooling is that even with music lessons or activities in the afternoon, their days and evenings aren’t rushed and full.
“Oftentimes, our music lessons are during school hours if our instructor can accommodate us during that time,” Grace said. “This is one of the ways that parents can really customize their schedule to home schooling. While we wait for my nine-year-old each week at his violin lesson, I spend time alone with my younger son working on his reading.”
–Home schooling co-ops – These are groups organized for all local home schooling families. They offer a variety of opportunities to break up your child’s weekly schedule and to make friends that are their age who are also home-schooled.
– Kindermusic – A great way to teach children to appreciate music at a very young age.
–YMCA – The Y provides a great place to keep your kids active. They offer swimming lessons, gymnastics, open gym and different sport leagues. Sometimes they have special activities for home-schoolers during school hours.
–KUMON – Another outlet available to students who are home-schooled or not. It focuses on helping children excel in reading and math.
A few more tips from Grace
–Personalize your children’s work space for school – “On the first week of school, I decorate my chalkboard with colorful decorations you might see in any typical classroom. This excites the kids for the new year and it makes it feel special. Our boys have special personalized cups to keep their pencils in.”
–Take them school supply shopping at the beginning of the school year – “They love getting new pencils and supplies. There’s nothing like the smell of a new box of crayons.”
–Take school photos – “I take a “First Day of School” photo each year. It is a great way to chronicle their school years and their growth.”
–Include Art class – “Our ABEKA curriculum supplies an art book with crafts for every season. We do this and also look for outside-the-home art classes in the community.”
-by Emily Robertson