By Sarah Joy Kurliand:
Why We Decided on Homeschooling
We moved to sunny San Diego last year and enrolled Xavier at the local Waldorf School for first grade, per his request to try school. Soon after, it became apparent that he wasn’t getting the attention he so desperately needed. This was his first time in a traditional school setting, having gone to a nature-based program in Philadelphia, where he was allowed to move freely and learn organically. As a neurodiverse child, he requires more time and attention than typically developing children might need. However, as discipline for his behaviors, he was sent out of the classroom a majority of his days, leading to sadness and thinking he wasn’t smart.
I felt that, as with many classrooms across America, there were too many children in the class and very little learning happening.
I firmly believe that the early learning years are critical to our children in that they are learning HOW to learn during this time. It’s important that they feel empowered and smart and capable, and that independently they can problem solve and figure out things. This, along with the connection and attention that I could give him more regularly in order to build up those learning and personal skills, was the basis for turning to homeschooling. Being able to foster his interests, keeping his innate love of learning alive and well, and slow living are also reasons we love homeschool.
What Does an Average Day Look Like?
Each day of our week looks very different, but I can take you through our current weekly schedule:
- Breakfast & Morning chores
- Read or listen to a audiobook while we eat
- Morning walk around the neighborhood to get the wiggles out
- Babysitter comes: Schoolwork time
- Morning writing work, IEW
- Language arts – word games
- Math games & math problems
- Snack/Break/Play outside
- Read some of our theme-of-the-month book
- Projects from our curriculum
- Yoga/Soccer/Boxing, alternating days
- Play for the rest of the afternoon until dinner
- Chapter book before bed
- Class Day with a group of other homeschoolers, ages 6-10 (San Diego Jr. Theatre classes, Science at the Fleet)
- The rest of the day is usually spent in Balboa Park with little brother and me playing and exploring museums
- Chapter book before bed
- Another Class Day with other Homeschoolers where they swim, a writing course (IEW), physics in the pool and cooking/sewing
- Saturday morning gardening chores
- Beach Day or Family Adventure Day
My approach has changed as the year has progressed. We had a lot of “de-schooling” to do before we could begin learning together: we had to undo the harmful things he learned previously and rewire his brain to the “Can Do” attitude. We did this throughout the summer by spending a lot of time getting grounded in nature. Eventually he stopped saying he was BORED and the light returned to his eyes.
We use Grow Your Natural Learner Curriculum, which is literature and theme based. Each month we read a new chapter book, then work on projects and activities focusing on math, science, language arts and artistic expressions that parallel what we’re reading. This makes it fun, meaningful and hands on. Along with this, I (independently) also provide math games and writing/reading with games and songs.
Best of Homeschooling/Worst of Homeschooling
The best parts of homeschooling have been growing together, truly seeing how his brain is working and understanding him on a deeper level. We also get to have a lot of fun together every day and connect in a way that we longed for.
The worst part of homeschooling is that at times I need some extra time to myself and I might not be at a place in the day when that is happening. So I’ve had to get super creative in finding ways to remain grounded, peaceful and calm during the storms.
We have 2 class days through a Homeschool Charter School, when he is with a mixed age group of kids from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm, which accounts for the majority of his friend time. In San Diego, there are so many groups of homeschool kids who meet on a weekly basis that there is never a dull moment. Whether with neighbors, old friends or new friends we meet at the park, he is constantly with other children. Xavier is super outgoing and is always meeting new folks.
Once we chose homeschooling, I found a babysitter for our family. Her main gig is to hang with little brother while I homeschool big bro; but 2 times a week, when little brother is sleeping, I head to the gym while she is with X. The truth is that, without all the rush of having to be places at certain times, the entire house slows to a more peaceful pace. Because the boys are around each other more, they play together more and there’s WAY less arguing. I enjoy being around my kids — and the more time we spend together, the more we all enjoy one another.
Sarah Kurliand is a nature loving, homeschooling, adventure-boy Mama who spends her days exploring the beauty of Southern California with her wild sons. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, discovering new places and living a life that leaves the world better than she found it. Sarah blog can be found here and her instagram.