Whether this is your first year or your tenth year, homeschooling is an ever-evolving thing. Yes you'll find your style and your routines, but as your kids grow... so will you! If you know us, you know we like to support homeschooling families with practical tips and tools and curricula. However, there is nothing like seeing authentic homeschooling in action. We know modeling learning for our children is important, and sometimes we as adults need the same! We crave honest inspiration and guidance from others.
So, we have reached out to a few families we know to get a peek into their homeschooling world! We are so excited to introduce you to these lovely families - each unique in their approach to homeschooling and open to sharing. First up is the Mundell Family! Can't wait for you all to get to know them!
How old are your kids? 13, 11, 8, and 4. 2 girls and 2 boys
Why did you originally decide to homeschool? When it was time for our eldest daughter to go to school we just couldn't imagine her being away from the family for a full day. We didn't know much about homeschooling, but we knew we wanted to spend our days together.
What would you say is your homeschool style? I would say eclectic. We don't stick to any one specific method or curriculum. We do what works best for each of our kids and what makes us come alive.
What is a typical school day like at your home? Homeschooling days are split between my husband and I. When I am in the office he is leading the charge at home, and when he is on the job I am at home. No matter what day of the week or which parent is home, we are very much into rhythms over tight schedules. Our days always start together with Morning Time. Morning Time for us is a time spent together learning about and enjoying things that are beautiful, good and true. Content changes a bit each season, but it almost always includes Bible reading, a hymn sing, prayer, a read-aloud, and breakfast. We add in other areas of study like art appreciation or a composer study to match up with our other studies. It's the best way to start the day. After MT, the big kids split for some independent work and we work with our preschooler. We gather together again for lunch and enjoy an audiobook or another read aloud and this ebb and flow happens throughout the day. Each kid gets one on one time with mom or dad to go over work, help with math, or just to connect. Learning happens everywhere in our home. The couch, the floor, the trampoline, a blanket in the grass, a hammock. Because we have a wide age range of children everyone gets ample time to play outside, to read for delight, to help in the kitchen, or to just relax. We are not all locked down at the dining room table all day.
What is the hardest thing about homeschooling? I think the hardest thing about homeschooling happens in your first years of homeschooling when you are not quite confident in yourself or your choices yet. You are trying to figure everything out from your state's laws, to which curriculum to purchase, to how to teach someone to read. I know I felt like I had something to prove my first couple of years and that can be exhausting. It is beautiful to come out of that season and to be fully confident in the choices you and your family are making.
What is the most rewarding part about homeschooling? One of the most rewarding parts about homeschooling is having a front row seat to all of the beauty and magic of your children growing and learning. We get to see and savor their childhood. We get to be there when someone becomes a reader (I cry every time!) or when a difficult math concept finally makes sense. We get to see it all happen right before our eyes. It is amazing.
Tell a story about a "homeschool win" to inspire. When our son finished kindergarten he still wasn't a reader. We knew this was completely okay but a lot of people think differently. I knew his time would come when he was ready. For his 1st grade year our Morning Time, as mentioned above, was thriving. We would spend 1-2 hours pouring over beauty, goodness, and truth together. I read so many read-alouds everyday to him and his siblings that my voice would give. We slowed down and remembered why we loved homeschooling and lived it out. I didn't put much of an emphasis on a formal reading curriculum. Just short, steady lessons, maybe 10 minutes a few times per week with All About Reading. We completely skipped our spelling curriculum for all of the big kids. Oops. We choose to have our kids tested each year. When Ezra finished his first grade and took his end of year test he was reading on a 5th-almost 6th grade level and spelling at a 3rd-4th grade level. My older girls also jumped entire grade levels in all subjects, placing them years ahead of their actual grades. I don't get hung up on levels, but I only share this to encourage you that your children will bloom when they are ready. Given the proper environment, which for us is connection, reading, playing outside together, and living well together, your kids will blossom and it will be beautiful. More times than not the best learning happens outside of our curriculum and formal learning times.
Tell a story about a "homeschool fail" to encourage. I don't know that I would call this a fail, but more trial and error and tweaking. Last year right at the start of our school year I was offered my dream job. I was not seeking a job and did not need to take one, but this was clearly God's direction for us. For the first time ever, I would be out of the house a couple of days a week and my husband would take over the homeschooling on those days. It was a HUGE change for all of us and some weeks I felt like we were all just fumbling our way through it, but my kids still had an incredible year and made amazing learning leaps in all areas. More importantly, our connection remained strong as we navigated these new, uncharted waters.
If Target and Amazon both went out of business (God forbid) and you could only fill one little basket for the homeschool year, what would you put in it and why? This might be cheating, but if I could fill only one small basket I would definitely put my library card in there! Books! What more do you really need!? I'd add our passports because we love to travel. Books and travel = everything. (I wanted to put our hiking shoes in the basket but I don't think they'd fit...so just know we are wearing them ;-) )
Favorite curriculums? We LOVE All About Reading and All About Spelling. So much fun! For math we'd pick Right Start.
What do you hope your children remember when they think back on their homeschool experience? This is a beautiful question. I hope that they remember the joy of our adventures (and misadventures)! I hope that the mere mention of the word "homeschool" floods their senses with joy and peace. I hope they remember when we all cried and laughed our way through read alouds, when we ditched the math lessons to head to the beach, and when we cranked up the music and danced on the couch. I hope they remember that nothing was more important than our connection with them. I want them to remember my loud, obnoxious mom screams at their recitals and matches. I want them to remember that Mom and Dad were their biggest fans. I want them to remember us praying and worshipping together and loving our neighbors together. I want them to remember that they were so completely loved.
How has homeschooling changed/shaped you and your home for good? Oh, our home is so much more joyful and beautiful. At every turn you will find invitations to wonder and learn. Art from kids is everywhere. Their creative expressions have made our home lovely. I too am so much more joyful and even more confident because of homeschooling. Knowing that I have 4 amazing kids looking at me to see how I will interact with the world around us has made me do the good and deep work of truly learning my identity in Christ. From this place of being seen, known, and loved, I am able to better see, know, and love and lead my family. What a gift.
If you could say anything to a new Homeschool mom or a veteran homeschool mom who might be “tired”- what would it be? My advice would be the same to both: prize connection with your children above all else. Like plants, people grow in healthy environments. Prioritize the health of your relationships and learning will happen naturally.
Fill in the blank: Homeschool, for us, looks like...