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!
TAMMY // FREE-RANGE // 2 CHILDREN
// From Kris: Our family was fortunate enough to participate in a homeschool co-op with Tammy and her boys, as well as swimming lessons. It is always great to be able to connect as part of our weekly rhythm and while out and about in the community.
Tell us about yourself…
I’m Tammy. My partner, Dave, and I are parents to two boys, Addie (9 years) and Bennie (almost 8). I’m basically quarterbacking the “homeschooling” game, but since I work half-time, I’ve got some awesome “second-stringers” in the line-up: it’s Mondays with Papa, Tuesday afternoons with Grandma and Grandpa, and Friday afternoons with Lisa (our paid friend!) Fun times!
What method of homeschooling do you practice?
I like to think of us as a grade A free range family: we’re free to peck away at whatever we feel drawn to and move about freely, as long as we stay out of traffic. Yes, it’s basically unschooling with a splash of guided learning here and there so the adults feel useful. 🙂
Why do we “homeschool?” Well, “we’re too cool for school,” or at least that’s what I advise my boys to tell people! I could give a long list of reasons we homeschool, but in the end, I’m really doing what comes natural to me as a parent, and my partner is on board. Our boys are deeply attached to us, and vice versa. Spending the best part of every weekday apart? Sorry, can’t be done. We have the resources to make a beautiful life together – an awesome library down the street, lots of friends and family, access to nature, enough Lego and Playmobil to choke a horse, a solid wifi connection – what more does one need?
Do you use a curriculum? If so, which one?
When it comes to curriculum, we’re dabblers, mostly, and use it as a jumping off point for other explorations and as an overarching structure to help us connect the dots. Story of the World has been my personal favourite as an intelligent guide and touch stone into so many interesting branches of world history. And, as a basic right of passage as homeschoolers, we’ve tried a couple of the most popular, expensive and extremely thick math curricula. Ugh! We’ve settled on the cheap and quick Mammoth Math series of downloadable workbooks, again, pecking our way through as we find time or need and getting help from Sal at Khan Academy when we’re stuck.
Describe a typical homeschool day for your family. Or, as you may have been asked – What do you do all day?
What is your favourite homeschooling resource – book, website, etc.?
My current favourite would have to be the Crash Courses by John and Hank Green. While a lot of the humour flies over my boys heads, they enjoy the silliness and visuals, and the history courses get at the same info we’re reading in Story of the World, but in a different voice.
Greatest joy in homeschooling (can be broad or a specific moment)?
I asked my boys why they like homeschooling: Boy 2: “Because I like to be near Mama all day.” A+ in sweet-talking his mom. Boy 1: “I like playing with my friends during the day.” My greatest joy is really in the vast quantities of time I get to spend with my boys. I love waking up to their sweet, eager faces and spending time snuggling in bed before we face the day. I love extended breakfasts debriefing news items over the background of CBC radio, a gentle rhythm of life, freedom to continually ask questions and follow the rabbit trails of our own curiosities. I enjoy reading in bed at night and the intimacy of conversations whispered in the half-darkness between wakefulness and sleep.
Greatest struggle with homeschooling (can be broad or a specific moment)?
My greatest struggle with homeschooling is the near constant self-scrutiny and questioning I do… Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Am I helping my boys live up to their potential? Etc. etc. I can coast for long periods of time feeling okay, then roil with anxiety in what I refer to as a “Mommy meltdown.” I have a vague sense of what school learning timelines are for various subjects and when my kids aren’t meeting those, I feel a sense of panic. Then I fight myself because this flexibility to learn naturally and at one’s own pace without being labelled a “failure” is a big part of why I homeschool! Argh! I guess I’m my own worst enemy in homeschooling land! As another unschooling friend once said, “It’s myself I have to un-school!”
How to you manage homeschooling and regular household stuff? Any awesome tips?
We don’t manage; our house is usually quite a mess, though my boys reassure me that “everyone’s house is messy mama!” I guess we know a lot of other homeschoolers! 🙂 When you’re actually living in your house all day, it can become pretty chaotic. Once, in a fit of desperation, I went online for some advice. I found a blog post that offered a catch phrase that has stuck for us: “Return the room to ready.” I’ve used that a lot – just reminding us all, at the day or activity’s end, to take two minutes to “return the room to ready,” leaving it all set for the next adventure. If only I remembered to use it more often!
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 up to those starting out?
I’m pretty much in the middle of this homeschooling journey now. If I could offer advice to myself it would be to cool it on the self-questioning. Just live your life and trust in the beauty and sufficiency of the love and insatiable curiosity you’re all pouring into the endeavour. What do I want to know from more experienced homeschoolers? Mostly I want to know that my kids are going to be okay… and even more, that they will thrive. My questions are answered in the lives of vibrant, loving, mature late-teen and adult humans that emerge from un/homeschooling.
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.