At HHU we love to give you a peek into the homes of Utah homeschool families and of how they make it work for their unique children and situations. We believe these family's stories can serve as inspiration for your own family. The ideas and advice presented in family spotlights belong to those of these families and are not officially endorsed by HHU.
Tell Us a Little About Your Family
Our family lives in Ogden, Utah and we have homeschooled for around 8 years. When we started homeschooling, we were teaching all five of our kids. Now, my oldest is 20, and then I have my 16, 13, 12 and 8 year old.
I began homeschooling as a kind of process. Part of the reason we homeschool is because we want our kids to have a more personalized education. I began when my oldest was 11 or 12 and he was going into 6th grade. So I started with him, and just him, because he was having issues at school. I figured if I needed to go in and talk to the teacher every week I might as well homeschool. I pulled my middle son out the next year because he had been diagnosed with ADHD and struggled with impulse control. They’d have a teacher sit outside of the classroom because whenever he’d get upset he’d run away and they'd have to go get him. The others have never done anything but homeschool.
This year, my 16 year old with ADHD decided to go to high school and we felt comfortable with that. It’s been quite an adjustment. It’s an adjustment for him to have to do work based on someone else’s timeframe. And he’s enjoying it. It gives us an ability to focus on the younger kids, which is nice, because it was getting to be a bit of a struggle with him.
What is the most important thing you think happened in your family because of homeschooling?
I've observed that everyone these days is busy. They are doing school, then they are doing classes. They aren’t used to having them around so they just put them into classes to fill the time. They don’t know what to do with their children. Families are disjointed. They are around each other for certain times -- meals, sports, etc. -- but they don’t know what to do with their children when they’re not doing school or taking extracurricular classes.
We’ve been homeschooling for 8 years now and the thing is, I know my kids. My children know each other. They know what each other likes and dislikes. (Sometimes that can be a problem, too, haha!) They are connected.
There is a sense of connectedness that so many families are missing because they’re just scattered to the wind. We go up and do our fieldtrips together and we would go and do all the extra classes together. At one point my oldest was taking a dance class and we would drive 30 minutes one way and it wasn't worth going home in between. So we’d all go together and drop him off and we would go to the library while he was at his class. And in order to make it palatable (since we’re around each other so much and you have to do that!) we made a regular routine. We have a family movie night. We play games. So we are a family and we are connected. We support each other, we root for each other. When my son did a dance competition, we all went and cheered for him. A Ninja competition, we would take as many as could go and we’d cheer him on. We work to support each other instead of being separate individuals doing separate things.
It’s even boiled over into my son now as he's attending public school. He was performing the spotlight in the opening play and we made sure he had a flower and we went and cheered him on.
I have to believe that this is going to roll over into when they get older because they want to be with each other right now and it makes sense that they'll want that then. They enjoy spending time together (Not all the time. You know!). But they know how to relate to each other in a non structured way. That is the most meaningful thing this has been for us.
Schooling on a Shoestring Budget
When we started out we were super broke. Things needed to be relatively inexpensive. The key to making the most of your money: Utilize your community’s resources. Be aware of what classes and opportunities are available.
Ask yourself, "How can I make my money work well for me?” If you’re going to take the time to spend the money, then make sure that money is made to work well for you.
Make Your Money Work Well For You
Ask yourself, "How can I make my money work well for me?” If you’re going to take the time to spend money, then make sure that money is made to work well for you, so that’s one of the things that we’ve done. For instance, when we moved from Lehi to Ogden, we had a Thanksgiving Point membership. We renewed it that first year after we moved, but the distance made it so we didn't go very often. It wasn't a wise way to spend our money. There have been other expenses that have fallen into that category over the years. Make your money work well for you.
We utilize the library a lot, books as well as programs for reading time. Our library is doing a unit on Chinese New Year this year, so we go to things like that. We look for cost effective places that we can go to to supplement our education. We also check out all sorts of technology, like e-readers, cameras, DVD players, DVDs.
There Are Great Finds Among Community Classes
A friend recently sent me a flier that said with the Boys and Girls Club your kids can take instrument classes for free and borrow instruments. So my kids are signed up and learning the guitar and violin.
Share the Teaching
We’ve been involved in a couple of co-ops, both free and paid. Right now we’re involved in a paid one that is $150/yr/family. That’s $35/child, and that’s 5 classes I didn’t have to teach. Tip for when you’re teaching: Gather resource ideas in one place, such as on a Pinterest board. Pinterest boards are really useful for when we have classes on different topics. I once taught a wire wrapping class for our co-op so I have a whole board on that that I used for preparing my lessons.
The Resources You Find Will Inspire Your Children
You probably already know this, but make the most of your local parks, walking paths and hiking trails. As a family, we go hiking a lot year round. As a result, my 12 year old is now interested in Botany because of the things we’ve discussed on the trail.
[To learn the rest of Jenni’s tips on Buying Used, Making Your Passes Work For You, Saving & Utilizing Money at Key Times of the Year and Networking with Families and Businesses, read “5 Tips for Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget.” She has so many great tips, we are just sharing the basics in this spotlight!]
If you could do it all over again, what would you tell yourself? (Tip for other beginning homeschoolers)
It’s not as hard as you think it is. You don’t have to do as much as you're doing.
I have friends who say it would be so hard to homeschool, but it really isn’t. I remember reading an article midway through our homeschool journey which was about the different approaches to home education. And someone had done a study and they found that students in public school, after taking out recess, lunch breaks, waiting in lines, fire drills, etc, actually got about 10 hours of curriculum time per week. That became my goal and has continued to be my goal for our homeschool. If my kids get 10 hours of learning a week (not counting the extra stuff that we do, like hikes and fieldtrips), then I know we're doing good.
If my kids get 10 hours of learning a week (not counting the extra stuff that we do, like hikes and fieldtrips), then I know we're doing good.
If you know a family who educates at home with an inspiring story, please share! Contact Britany Sproul at email@example.com.