How I Homestead and Homeschool (…While Also Running a Business): Part One

Anyone who has tried it will tell you,

Homesteading (I mean serious homesteading) and homeschooling at the same time can be very challenging. Especially when you have multiple children.

Often I think back to the pioneer days and I envy the mothers who could send their children off to a little one room schoolhouse for a few hours a day. I realize that it would have been near impossible for her to get all of her work done and educate the children adequately without outside help. There was simply too much to do.

Fast forward to modern times. Throw in running an online business (or several businesses) and trying to keep up with social media demands and you’re lucky to see the pillow at night.

Without hiring a small army of assistants there’s no way to get it all done in a day. Forget about it.

You do the best you can do, but the kids have to be a priority.

Multiple Children. Multiple Learning Styles.

I have four kids, all at different grade levels and all with different personalities and learning styles.

Our oldest, Jada, is 13 now. She has always been an eager learner. She was reading small words at two years old. By eight she was reading at a high school level. She devours books and soaks up information like a sponge. Her education is very self driven. She studies on her own, outside of her assignments, and writes papers on her personal research.

Our oldest son, Titus, is 10. He’s a very hands-on learner. He can read well, but he doesn’t enjoy it. Reading comprehension is still a struggle. He does well in math though, and is very mechanically minded. He’d much rather be building bikes or forts or helping his Daddy with a project than doing book work. He gets overwhelmed easily when I give him his assignments, and is discouraged when he doesn’t do well. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy learning, it just has to be something he’s interested in. (Which is how most of us learn best.)

Our youngest daughter, Xia, is almost 8. She has the attention span of a… well… let’s just say she’s very easily distracted. She has a very creative mind which often leads down many roads when approached with a topic. She’s very engaged, but totally unfocused.

An example of what a reading lesson with Xia is like…

Me: Xia, will you please read these sentences?

Xia: Sure! (begins reading) The black dog was walking in the park. (stops reading) Oh! We have a black dog! I love her. She’s the best dog ever. We have black kittens, too! The kittens are sooo cute! (squealing in delight)

Me: (smiling) Yes baby. We do have a black dog and kittens. Okay, keep reading.

Xia: Okay! (begins reading) The girl and the dog went to the pond. (stops reading) Hey, we have a pond! I love going down to the pond! There are lots of frogs down there. I love to catch frogs. They’re so funny. I caught a frog yesterday and made a little house for it…

Me: (laughing) Okay, honey, that’s nice. Let’s keep reading.

And on and on it goes throughout the entire reading section. It takes us forever to get through a paragraph! It’s like every little thing she reads sparks an idea in her head that excites her. It can be very difficult to get very far with her in a short amount of time.

She has a strong desire to please though, and will often pull her workbooks down without being asked and will do several pages on her own so that she can proudly present them to me. She’s also easily discouraged if it doesn’t come easily to her. She’s doing well with reading, but math is a tough one right now.

Our youngest son, Elias, just turned 6. He finds great satisfaction in doing well in his workbooks, but he’s also over it very quickly and is eager to get on with his play. He seems to be picking up a lot from just listening to what his older brother and sisters are learning. He loves for me to read to him.

Each child is so different. Each requiring a slightly different approach to education. I’ve tried a lot of things to do my best to make it work. Our homeschooling routine is constantly evolving as life’s path twists and turns and as the children grow.

I’ll share with you what materials and books we’ve used for our kids pre-K through 8th grade so far. Check them out if you’re interested and see if they might be a good fit for your family.

Homeschooling Year Round

I have found that for us it works better to go through the school year slower and longer rather than trying to cram hours and hours of work into every week day and taking 2-3 months off to do nothing during the summer. Schooling year-round gives us more flexibility with our time, and it keeps the kids engaged without too much downtime to forget what they’d been learning.

Since our schedule is so inconsistent right now with Jerry and I taking care of my grandfather full time, our school time varies depending on who is with the kids. If I’m at home with them, I school in the mornings. If Jerry is with them at home, I school them in the evenings when we all get together for dinner at my grandfather’s house. We work school time into our life. We don’t try to arrange life around school time.

Materials I Use

I love to use library books and manipulatives as often as possible. By combining text and pictures with actual hands-on learning, children have a much easier time grasping concepts and retaining them. When learning is fun, it comes naturally.

For little ones I used a lot of flash cards, puzzles, music, books, educational games, magnets, videos, and arts/crafts… anything that taught basic numbers, shapes, colors, letters, phonics, etc. in an entertaining way.

There are plenty of manipulatives for elementary and older students as well.

When my son got to the simple and complex machines section of his 4th grade curriculum, I purchased a K’NEX Simple and Compound Machines Building Set. It was pricey, but I knew that simply reading about levers, pulleys, gears, etc. wasn’t going to be enough to cement the concepts in my son’s mind. He had to have a working knowledge of how these machines actually function.

I probably could have come up with a few projects using stuff we had laying around the house, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting nor as comprehensive. He LOVED that I supplemented his book work with hands on activities. And he eagerly showed me just how each of the 16 simple and complex machines worked once he completed them.

Educational videos, board games and visuals, such as posters and educational magnets for the whiteboard are also great. (I actually just purchased a Magnetic Human Body for the kids to put on the board to learn to identify organs, which they were all fascinated by.)

Since Jada is getting into coding and robotics, I’m going to be ordering an Arduino Starter Kit for her. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Arduino, so I’m excited to surprise her with a set to get started with.

These are just a few examples of ways you can supplement a curriculum with hands-on learning.

Regardless of age, whatever your kids are learning or are interested in at the moment, find creative ways to encourage them to pursue their curiosities. If that means field trips, or manipulatives, or TED talks on YouTube, or books from the library, do whatever you can to foster an environment where learning is enjoyable.

Workbooks and Online Courses

Workbooks, of course, play an important part in a comprehensive homeschool curriculum. There’s so much for me to share on the subject that I think I’ll continue my thoughts in a second post.

If you’re interested in which text and workbooks we’ve used and which ones I’d recommend, as well as online curriculums, stay tuned for Part Two!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on homesteading and homeschooling. How do you make it work?

Kendra
About Kendra 1123 Articles

A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

7 Comments

  1. Easy Peasy Homeschool really is great for our young Pre-K daughter. But, it’s not strong on math at that age, and it’s also all screen time, which is a downer for someone like me, who prefers limited screen time and printed materials for children. We combine Easy Peasy with the Teach My Preschooler kits ($30), plus pre-K to 3rd grade workbooks sold at our local retail store, for $1-10 each. We’ve been taking things at a casual pace, an hour a day three times a week or so; at 3 years old, she can count to 100 if reading her Numbers book or to 20 without it, read the hour hand on the clock accurately, knows all her letter sounds, shapes, colors, and opposites, and can fluently relate book and movie plots. And I still worry I’m not devoting enough time and effort to her education, lol. I worry that I’m failing her in the arts because she can’t draw a human face yet. At what point do you qualify as a worrywort mother?

  2. I admire you young ladies for your commitment to teaching your children. They will get a much better education than public schools. It has been decades since my own children were at those ages, but I have grandkids who are. I have tried to encourage the kids to homeschool, but they have many excuses to not do so. I give them just as many reasons why they should, but if they dont really want to, it would be an even more negative and unsuccessful learning experience. Your (and the previous commenter’s) children’s learning styles all remind me of my own. I am sure I was a difficult child to teach, but I managed to achieve enough A’s to be in the top 5 graduates of my class. You are preparing a new generation of productive citizens and leaders. Your impact and influence will live on long after you are gone, by the investment you are making now. I salute you both (and others who do the same) for doing the hard, but right, thing for your children.

    • Thank you, Grandma Susan, for your encouraging words. Homeschooling can be a real struggle, but in the end I know that it’s right for our family at this time in our lives. I hope that the education we are giving our children will form a strong foundation for their lives.

  3. Oh my goodness, I had to laugh at your children’s individual learning styles. My kids are very similar:) Our oldest, a girl 10, is much like Jada. Our second, a boy 8, is much like Titus. Workbooks are for the birds, lol! And he gets so discouraged when something is done incorrectly. We are working on that and have made improvement! And our third a girl 6, is easily distracted. Maybe not as much as Xia but still so similar:) Our youngest three aren’t quite ready for too much learning yet beyond colors, shapes etc. (And learning to talk, lol!)
    I am very interested in hearing what you are using for curriculum. We started a new one last year, that is mostly online with printed off worksheets. (And best of all, free!) There has been a learning curve for me:) As well as having a baby in March, so this year we didn’t get as far as I wanted but that’s alright:) I am transitioning into a year round school year and wouldn’t mind hearing more about how that works for you guys. This past year has been pretty crazy for us and I really think it will work out better.
    As for getting things done, I am starting to get back to where I feel like I can think and have the energy to actually get stuff done. And some things just don’t happen:) I try and prioritize as I am sure you do! I also remind myself daily that all too soon, these days will be gone. It has REALLY helped me personally to not get as stressed out when I don’t get everything done that needs to be. I am trying to focus on what we HAVE gotten done. We were responsible for planting the “big” garden this year, and it got done! I am considering this a big win:) I haven’t gotten to my small garden yet, but I am working on being ok with that. As long as I get the weeds cleared out I will be happy. Maybe I will plant started plants or just wait until next year when the baby is bigger. Priorities and realizing God is bigger are my focuses right now. He is definitely taking me on a journey this year and I am trying hard to trust and follow where He is leading. Sorry for the novel, lol! Guess this is something that has been on my heart lately and you gave me the avenue to express it:)

    • Jessica K-
      That’s so funny that your kids are so similar to mine. I wonder how many other learning styles/personalities there might be! I’d love to know which online curriculum you are using (for free!). Jada’s curriculum has been all online for the past two years, which is FANTASTIC, but it’s pretty expensive. Not as much as private school or a tutor by far, but much more than what we’d been paying for workbooks. She’s past the point that I can really be an effective teacher though, so it was the necessary next step. Her online courses have been awesome. I’ll share more about what we’re using in the next post. 🙂
      Getting things done is definitely all about prioritizing! Some days my house is a wreck but the garden gets worked on. Some days the kitchen gets thoroughly cleaned but veggies might not get picked or dinner might be leftovers. Some days we’re so busy that lesson time doesn’t get done at all, and that’s okay! Sometimes, if it’s a beautiful day, we drop everything and drive to the mountains for a picnic at our favorite waterfall. It’s so wonderful to have that kind of flexibility as a family. We just pick up where we left off and keep on truckin’ from there. 🙂

      • We used Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool and will definitely be using it again! We just had our end of year assessment today and on the way home, our oldest daughter turned to me and said, “I didn’t realize how much I learned this year!” I didn’t either until I started to pull it all together. 🙂 Like all curriculum it has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but it definitely worked this year for our family and I am excited to use it again! (Basically no prep work involved which is great for me!) I’m not sure how it is for the older grades, but we did 4th, 2nd mixed with some 1st, and Kindergarten/1st grade. Definitely check it out! I hope you, or someone else, find it useful:)

        • Thank you so much for the recommendation! I’m gonna check it out right now. It might be a good fit for my two youngest ones. 🙂 I love that it’s FREE!! Awesome!

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