This post is part of a series called Day in a Homeschool Life. This community of homeschoolers would love to hear from you about your typical learning day and how your homeschool family rolls. Head over to the Day in a Homeschool Life page for submission guidelines. It’s super easy and stress-free. Come on over and help us build community so we can all feel a little more connected on this journey!
RHONDA CATTANI // ECLECTIC & COMMUNITY-BASED
Tell us about yourself…
Hello! My name is Rhonda Cattani. I am blessed to have an amazing hubster, Brennan, and together we have 4 monkeys – Caden (8), Annabelle (6), Coralise (4), and Jonathan (21 months). We believe that every part of our life story whispers the name of Jesus, and for this reason, we have dedicated our lives to sharing that. Brennan, my husband, is the director of Camp Cedarwood where we have the opportunity to discuss with teens if and how they might see that in their own stories. As well, we are a part of starting a new church, Awaken Church, where we invite others to consider how their life might “wake up”. Homeschooling is a lovely part of our community-based life style.
What method of homeschooling do you practice?
To be honest, I don’t really know. I am a structured person, slightly type A (or maybe a little more than slightly), so I need books that direct me but I also like the freedom to throw in anything my kids are curious about.
Do you use a curriculum? If so, which one?
I follow A Well Trained Mind loosely. We use Math U See, All About Spelling, Story of the World, Donna Ward for geography, First Language Lessons, and a mish-mash of God’s Design and other things for science. We also always have lots and lots of library books. I will also throw in handwriting practice, art or crafts, and topical features whenever the desire arises.
Describe a typical homeschool day for your family. Or, as you might have been asked – What do you do all day?
I am a night owl and my husband is the early bird, so he will get up with the monkeys. By the time I get up they have already eaten breakfast so I get them dressed and then we start school. I had a really great school experience and wanted to encourage elements like the singing of O’Canada and the Lord’s prayer into the beginning of our day. Then, we do our Bible reading and then math, reading and the writing portions of the day so that they can get done when the focus is the strongest.
We do a lot of reading together. We regularly have the maximum allotted books from the library, so every day we set time for reading. Often the afternoon is when we will do science, geography, and history followed by play, lego building, crafty projects (my Annabelle’s favourite), and pretty much anything we can come up with! On Wednesdays the kids are in choir and on Thursdays they do piano. On those days, the only “book” work we really do is math. Otherwise, we have friend visits, library time, and other field trips we want to do.
What is your favourite homeschooling resource – book, website, etc.?
I have found that my best way to learn is being in community with others. Chatting with moms, reading blogs (like this one..wink, wink), basically learning from others experiences! I joke with a dear friend and fellow homeschooler, that since she is the reader, I will just pick her brain about what she has read and then figure out what I’m doing from there. The best resource is someone who has learned a skill/idea/plan I don’t have.
Greatest joy in homeschooling (can be broad or a specific moment)?
Realizing that I am not failing my children by being their teacher!! I have struggled with the books/structure vs play/unstructured elements as I really am that type A person who needs structure to feel like I have been productive and progressing. And then, that moment when my boy reads a chapter book with no assistance or my girl answers a question regarding a subject that we had talked about days before…it really blows my mind!
My absolute favourite thing, though, is our talks about life, people, the world, and their understanding of Jesus. I love that their education can first be compassion, generosity, service and love. That they can learn to interact with the world around them and make decisions based on these virtues and most importantly, the act of a Creator who died for his creation.
Greatest struggle with homeschooling (can be broad or a specific moment)?
As I mentioned a bit above, it’s the wondering if they are learning enough. I hear the comments of naysayers rolling around in my mind and the assumed thoughts of someone who hears that I am homeschooling and I doubt myself. Am I covering everything I should? Are we doing enough science/art/geography…whatever?!? And of course, the ever present “mom-comparison” now coming out as the “homeschooling-mom-comparison”. I don’t do THAT! What?!? You do HOW much?!? I’ve come to realize that the ideal of homeschooling has actually hurt me by not leaving room for grace…for my kids AND for me. I feel like I succeed when I let go of the possibility of perfection and embrace the grace and love that I see in my and my children’s imperfection. When I embrace the fact that my daughter struggles with reading or my son struggles with math, then I can embrace that I am a homeschooler who can work through these as fast or slow as they need. And then, I can encourage them, that they WILL get it. And I really believe it!
How to you manage homeschooling and regular household stuff? Any awesome tips?
I wish I was better at this, to be honest! I have been meaning to create a schedule for my kids as they do partake in things like gathering garbages, sorting laundry, and dusting, but it would be nice to have something daily.
If you’re new to homeschooling – what would you like to ask more experienced homeschool parents? If you’re a veteran, what nugget of wisdom can you offer to those starting out?
I’ve only been homeschooling now for 2 years, and so I would love to have suggestions on chore charts and such. But I would also say to someone starting out – find your groove – whatever philosophy or style that may be – and enjoy it! Even the moments that you find the most frustrating can be teaching moments – for you AND your kids!
Readers – Please feel welcome to ask questions or share in the comments – let’s keep everything positive!
For learning resources, check out the Homeschool section in our shop – lots of free printables and more.