1. Tell us a bit about your family.
We are Kyle, Kristin, Thorin (age four) and Cedar (nearly 18 months).We are simple living folks, who really just value family, and our time together. We have lots of interests: biking, sewing, reading, home brewing, food preservation, all things crafts, and now of course; homeschooling.
2. Have you always known you wanted to homeschool?
We didn’t always know that we wanted to homeschool, in fact, before having children, and when our oldest son was still an infant, we were actually against homeschooling. But along our life’s journey, we met some homeschooling families and made some lifestyle changes that led us to question our stance on educating children. As our oldest son grew beyond infancy, we realized we needed to make a decision on how we wanted our children to be educated – it was then that we threw ourselves headfirst into really learning and discovering the different ways to educate children. Our gained knowledge and reflection lead us to the decision to homeschool our children as long as they wish to be homeschooled.
3. What’s your favorite thing about homeschooling?
I think my favorite thing (right now) about homeschooling is the flexibility and freedom involved.
Our oldest son is only four, but already he’s led us all down some great learning paths, that we never would have gone on if we had decided to send him to daycare or preschool.
His learning is all tailored to him – if he wishes to play dress up, he does. If he wants to write a letter he sees, we help him. We know that we have hardly even begun this journey with our children, but we do so love that they can be an active part of their own education.
4. The hardest thing?
For us, the hardest thing about homeschooling thus far has been acceptance. We live in Minnesota, where homeschooling isn’t necessarily readily accepted, and being that we consider ourselves a “Waldorf influenced” family – we are even more of a minority.
Sometimes it is hard not having an immediate network around to bounce ideas back and forth with, or to be inspired by, but slowly – we are finding the other “hidden gem” homeschooling families out there, and I think as time moves on, this part of homeschooling will become less of a hardship. It’s also why I think a co-op like this is great – just for the connection!
5. What do you do to prepare for “back to school?” Anything?
This is our first year really thinking about the beginning of our homeschooling journey, so I am assuming this year is a little different from what a normal year would be like when our children are older. We didn’t purchase any curriculum (we feel our oldest is too young for any formal lessons right now) but I wanted to make sure that we had whatever supplies on hand for whatever the boys might want to do. It was really just checking our art supplies, making new play capes, sorting through toys and books – re-organizing everything to make it all fresh.
6. Do your children ever ask to go to school?
I think Thorin (our four year old) has asked once about going to school, after he heard a neighborhood child talk about it, but he is too young to really grasp what going to school means anyway. My husband and I decided that we will homeschool until the children don’t want to homeschool anymore – but within reason. We realize the lower elementary age children might not be equipped to really understand a decision like that, so we will take it as it comes. Sometimes our answer will be no. Someday it might be yes. And then the request might not even come at all, we don’t really know.
7. Do you prescribe to a particular homeschooling philosophy?
We consider ourselves to be a Waldorf influenced family.
8. Do you use a particular curriculum? Any recommendations?
We did not use a curriculum for our oldest son this year (he is still too young to start with a curriculum) and we probably wont use a full curriculum next year – but in our searches we have really come to enjoy Oak Meadow. We intend to supplement with a lot of different sources, but it seemed like Oak Meadow really had a lot of pros for us. We currently have a few years of their curriculum in our “library.”
9. What does a typical day look like at your house?
Oh a typical day usually starts with the boys waking Kyle (my husband) around 7:00, who helps them get dressed, and start their day (breakfast etc). I am less of a morning person, so this works out well for us all. Then my husband heads out to work, and the boys and I start our “organized chaos.”
We don’t have a set schedule – more of a flow or rhythm, so to someone outside of the family, it might not look organized. Usually mornings are for errands, or for bigger projects. We have an earlier lunch – around 11:30, with a nap time/quiet time around 12:30. Nap time is always the same – we dim lights, sing songs and read a book. Our oldest, Thorin, doesn’t always nap anymore, but I still have him remain in his room – he can look at books, but as a rule he needs to stay in his room during this time. Nap time runs until mid afternoon, and when it’s over is the really active time. It’s usually the best time to go outside to run around, or play dress up, anything to use up some of that energy. Supper is rather early again, around 5:30. The time between when supper is over, and when we get ready for bed I usually try to limit activities to calmer choices – but with two little boys, that doesn’t always happen.
My husband’s hours vary at work, so he either comes home right before supper, and eats with us, or he comes home right before bedtime routine – either way daddy usually does the bulk of our bedtime routine. If the boys have a bath, we start bedtime routine around 6:45 – if it’s a night that they don’t have a bath, we start around 7. Bedtime is much the same as nap time – dimming the lights, singing songs and reading a story (sometimes two). Usually the boys are in bed and falling asleep around 7:45.
10. What is your best homeschooling tip?
My best homeschooling tip? Oh I don’t know if I’m ready to hand out tips – we’ve only just begun this journey. I’d love to know others’ tips though!
11. As a homeschooling family, what is the one item you couldn’t do without?
Well, right now I think my answer would be our books. Kyle and I have always been big readers – and we’ve carried that over into our parenting. There are always stacks of books around the house – sometimes so that I get flustered with having to pick them all up, but as I do so – I remind myself: these are the best messes to have around!
Thank you so much, Kristin, for sharing some of your passions and processes with us!