What Does Homeschool Look Like?

Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future. ~ Maria Montessori

We get a lot of questions about our travel-school.  “Where/how do you teach?” or “Who makes lunch?” or “Do you give home-work?” A lion’s share of kids love the concept of learning at home, while most parents are horrified at the thought.

I completely understand why we would be a curiosity. Before we started, I often wondered how and where we would work and whether or not we should have homework. I also wondered who would be making our lunch…

Well, to answer the homework question first. No, we do not have homework. Each school day is full, so there is no need to do more at night. Or as Oliver likes to say regarding homework-for-homeschoolers, “Wouldn’t that just be school after school?” He is right.

When one teaches, two learn. ~ Robert Heinlein

Above is an example of what our dining-room looks like during school hours. Books, computers, supplies, scrap paper everywhere. Me in my apron. It’s a happy mess.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. ~ Plutarch

Sophia likes to start school early, so she does that. Oliver likes to sleep in and start school a little later, so he does that.  Both kids do most of their independent course-work (like math, grammar, writing, Spanish, geography) in the mornings and we do group work (like literature, poetry, world history, science) in the afternoons. We have some tests, but not a lot. At the upper middle/high school level, homeschoolers are partners in their education. They are their own driving force for learning a blend of core subjects and what interests them.

We dislike distractions. Wherever we are, it is important to keep disturbances to a minimum.  I take care not to schedule repairs, doctor or hair appointments or visits of any kind during school hours. My phone is set to mute from approximately 9am to 3pm, and sometimes I happily lose the thing altogether.

Overall, our homeschool is quiet. There are many peaceful places to read or work in our house and on our boat. We have become skilled at finding healthy environs in which to work. The kids have had to concentrate on their studies in so many places, I have lost count:  hotels, villas, boats, airports, home (kitchen counter, dining/living rooms, floors), libraries, restaurants and offices. Above, Sophia is taking a few minutes to finish her free-reading at the beach. 

Homeschool field trips rock. We get the most out of every field trip by hiring a guide if we can, not being in a rush and asking a lot of questions.  In September we visited the Beluga whales in Valencia early, before the Oceanografic Aquarium opened, so we had them all to ourselves. It was peaceful, mesmerizing, serene. After-school snacks are more fun in other countries.

Homeschooling is delicious. And homey! Kids’ nutritional needs are up and down. Some days they hardly eat and others they are so ravenous, I can’t feed them enough. Calories make a difference when trying to learn hard math and I can draw a direct line from an empty stomach to a troublesome, frustrating non-learning lesson. So I deliver secret toast, healthy snacks and make our lunches everyday (+ I like that I can watch with my own mom-eyes those mini-carrots go down the hatch).

Life happens. Sometimes grandparents are visiting, or someone is leaving and we must say goodbye, or a tooth falls out or dad comes home mid-day from a long racing trip. We might miss a few minutes of grammar, but we don’t miss life. The heart of teaching at home is really an extension of honest parenting. It is my job to create a tranquil school atmosphere and then let the kids lead the way in their own learning. We don’t have a magazine-perfect home and our laundry piles up in giant scary heaps. But our mutual mindsets value books, paints, puns and board-games over just about anything else.

“Homeschool Mama, You can’t be everything to everyone. You are not Taco Night.” – Kara Anderson

Homeschooling must be flexible. We are persistent in our work, yet open to new adventures every day.  Often our schedule changes and we have learned to roll with the shifts. Soon we will move from home to boat and this transition is always a challenge. Tony and I work hard to make the move as smooth as possible and the kids know to help us in any way they can. As in all homes, family-life in general takes tremendous team-work.  We all pitch in where needed and it is in that partnership where we succeed in our learning.

Testing our home-made camera-obscuras during a solar eclipse.

Like snowflakes, no two home-schools are alike… Each is as unique as the family itself.  Ours is thorough in academics, extensive travel and life experiences. We expect a certain level of maturity from our kids as we insist on outside activities and volunteer work. Our teens play local middle/high school sports and sail. They get in quibbles with friends, roll their eyes at us, don’t like math and always seem to need five bucks for something. So in the balance, our kids, our family, our school is very much like yours. 

Living is learning and when kids are learning fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don’t always know what it is. ~ John Holt

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn. She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome, 1907.

Plutarch (Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus) was a Greek biographer and essayist.  45-127 A.D. (wikipedia). Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. John Caldwell Holt was an American author, educator, and proponent of homeschooling. Kara Anderson is a fellow homeschool mom and writer.

Some quotes (200 Inspiring Quotes about Homeschooling, Learning and Creativity) in this post including Kara Anderson’s were found on themulberryjournal.com.

cam·er·a ob·scu·ra /ˌkam(ə)rə əbˈskyo͝orə/ noun

One Comment Add yours

  1. janiscouvreux says:

    Reblogged this on Janis Couvreux.


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