Here’s the thing…

I homeschooled Cami last year and we both loved it so much that we are continuing this year. I have this silent rule here on the blog that I don’t usually write about: politics, religion, or public education. Mostly because I have a passionate dislike of all three. But– I’m going to break my own rule because I wanted to make a few notes based on the overlap of homesteading and home education.

We are switching from a classical curriculum (Calvert) to a more artisticly-approached curriculum (Oak Meadow). As much as we loved the lessons, the ease of use, and the challenge of Calvert, we just cannot afford it this year; especially when the Oak Meadow curriculum is 1/3 of the price.
I knew someone would ask what we were using, so I thought it a good idea to just stick it in here.

While I was typing up all the tree guild lists for a blog post, I had my Fungi Perfecti catalog out. It would have been quite unfortunate to spell “King Stropharia” incorrectly for the world to see. Cami was flipping through the catalog asking what all of the equipment listed in the back was for. I explained that mushrooms produce seeds that are so small that they are too difficult for human eyes to see. Mushroom seeds are called spores and people use special equipment to keep their mushroom tools clean so that it is easier to grow them.


Then I thought: How cool would it be to grow mushrooms through a full cycle as a science project? My mind wandered to all kinds of crazy experiments and lessons that could stem off of simple mushrooms. I already planned to start a straw mushroom patch in a couple weeks so why not set it up together? Planting methods, growth charts, measuring, spore prints, “still life” drawings, elementary shapes, record keeping, all can be taught and practiced using a $20 bag of mushroom spawn.

This all led me to start a list of different subjects I want to cover through the future years of homeschooling my daughter. Sure, you can do all this with kids after a day of public school, but–

Here’s the thing…

I don’t want to. I want my kid to learn about using a ruler from measuring how tall a mushroom grew, or counting from collecting eggs (actually did that one), or how to use a scale by weighing baby animals, or about astronomy by staying up late to map the constellations, or the parts of a plant by growing one, or even about anatomy by dissecting something once alive. I want my kid to be able to ask as many questions as she wants. I want her to get one-on-one instruction. I want her to be confident enough in herself to laugh and be silly while learning about the life cycle of a toad or about the American economic system.

If you went to a public school that had unique methods of learning like this, tell me where you grew up and I’ll hop on a plane tomorrow.

Many people work long shifts or cannot afford to educate their children at home. I totally get it. We are also on a very tight budget because I am blessed enough to have a husband that works hard so I stay home with the farm and our daughter.

Regardless of the financial limitations, I have found this last year of homeschooling to be beyond rewarding for our family. I see the faces my family makes when I say that I plan to continue homeschooling, but whatever. I’ve seen that humpf face before when I wanted to go to a holistic healing school; or travel to Russia to study old, crusty art; or when I brought Trevor home. I’m used to it. Thanks to homeschooling on the farm, Cami has learned more than was ever expected from her. The kid has all the preschool stuff and most of the kindergarten stuff down pat. She even knows how to milk a goat and make a chicken nest. Next we’ll tackle the SAT’s and a high-tech aquaponics system.

It works for us. Sure, we don’t have money to go out to dinner every week or go see movies in the theater as soon as they come out, but we get to do better things. We are trendy in the fact that we eat, live, and learn “hyper-locally”. That’s what the hipsters cool kids call it, right?

Got fun homesteady-homeschool lesson ideas? Grammar perhaps? (Just kidding.) Leave a comment!

24 thoughts on “Here’s the thing…

  1. Good job with homeschooling. You might also check out Timberdoodle which is great for interactive hands on learning and very affordable. Good luck!

  2. I homeschool my 17 year old son for the exact same reasons. He is learning “life skills” We have our bad days, but overall, it has brought us way closer than we were when he went to the “other, shove-our-politics-down-your-throat school” I admire you greatly for all you are doing. I don’t always agree, but you are an awesome person.

  3. You’ll get used to the relatives and their expressions. Mine finally settled down after the part of the 1st set of kids graduated and got scholarships that the ones in public schools didn’t even get close to. The 5 at home now are like your little one, very ‘farmy’ in their education and we go to a co-op once a week during the traditional school year that makes up for what we miss at home, so it’s a win-win…

    • Dear Sarah, I am SOOOO proud of you for sticking to your guns!! You may not hear it from your family but you are the solitary of your family that gives it high value. My daughter just turned 18 and homeschooled all but 3 years due to state mumbo jumbo when we moved. She is so grateful for all the time we invested in her. She has a sense of self worth that you just can’t get out of brick and mortar box. My heart broke for you and Cami as I read your library experience. The truth is you were treated as weird because of ignorance. Thank God you are not raising her to follow that ignorance blindly. She will be able to think and function without having to depend on the system that too many of our children are subjected to. I have friends who have taught for over 30 years and are so frustrated that they can no longer teach kids to learn, but rather have to teach them how to pass mandated tests, thereby loosing what you are able to give your daughter; imagination, curiosity, innocence, a desire to learn, and a chance to learn how to be independent. She will learn how to interface with all age brackets and from that she will benefit from years of wisdom our children are cut off from by being confined to kids their own age for almost 1/3 of their day. She will have the chance to get through her teen years with just her own insecurities to deal with. Keep on keeping on. Its the best investment you could ever make for your child’s future.

      • Awww, thanks. My mother is actually a school teacher for 1st-8th and for the past 10 years I have been volunteering and teaching pottery wheel in her classroom on a regular basis. So, yes, I know all too well what the system expects of children and what is ignored. What is this imagination, curiosty, and desire to learn you speak of? Great to hear from a fellow homeschooler!

    • Sometimes I’ll read comments and think, “what the heck did I write?” It’s one of those things where I can tell that my family wants to be supportive, but no one we know has homeschooled before, so it is a completely foreign concept to them. My mother worries about transcripts and college admissions and the credibility of homeschooling in general. But she has been enveloped in the public system too long as a teacher and so has a hard time seeing it from any other angle. We have a co-op (sort of) near here, but they don’t have any classes this year that would be on a younger level. So in the meantime, I am going to get Cami started in Girl Scouts (might have to start a troupe) and next year she will be old enough for 4-H.

  4. We home-schooled our kids. They had to be tested every year, but always passed the tests several years above their level. Both have graduated from college. As they were growing up, people would comment on how personable they were and how at ease they were with adults. We had an at-home print shop. Both learned all about the printing business, artwork and composition, and even learned how to operate the press at a young age. As the paper went through the press, they could figure out percent of work that was done. It blew me away. Their Mom gave them lessons from the Calvert course…(then it was $75/year) for about 2 1/2 hours a day and the rest of the time was theirs. We never had a tv so they had to come up with activities on their own. I applaud your efforts to home school. It’s much more work than sending your child to school, but you’ll never regret it.

    • Finally! Someone who has heard of Calvert. Hahaha! We really liked Calvert, but their prices for kindergarden are around $1100… not anywhere near $75. The price was DEFINITELY worth the curriculum and all the supplies included, but like I said, we are on a tight budget with me staying home. $300 for Oak Meadow was just a better choice financially for us this year. And with a taste of both schools, we can make a more informed choice of what we want to do in the long run. I rather not switch curriculums every year.
      No, I don’t think I will ever regret this time spent homeschooling.

  5. I am totally amazed as I read of your exploits. I am doing much the same as you. Hugelkultur, aquaponics, fermenting food, Bokashi composting, etc. I am totally DIY.
    If I lived closer I would surely visit your farm.


  6. Sarah,
    I applaud your approach to your daughter’s education. I had the benefit of being homeschooled for a few years and going to public school for a few years. I absolutely loved the years that I was able to learn at home. I read voraciously and was able to learn about subjects the public schools in my area didn’t have the budget to teach. I am also living on a small farm and I hope someday to be able to educate my future children at home as you are doing with your little one.

    • Thanks Sarah! Both for your comment and for spelling your name correctly. 😉 Even while going to public school my love of reading allowed me to learn subject that the school could not teach, much like you. I taught myself about world mythology, astronomy, photography, and I even taught myself basic Japanese (during French class). Which is why I failed French, but can now go shopping or find train times in Japanese.

  7. I have always said there are three things we do that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on: Crossfit, naming animals we eat, and homeschooling. My husband works and I stay home with three kiddos and the farm. A lot of people ask how we manage farming and homeschooling…they go perfectly hand in hand! Farming actually makes homeschooling SO much easier because there is a lesson in everything we do, and it’s a hands-on lesson at that! I have also steered clear of posting about homeschooling – but, ironically, I would love to read some! Especially posts about homeschooling on the farm/homestead. 🙂

    • Ha! Ain’t that the truth. Farming does make homeschooling easier. I try my best to keep off those touchy subjects, but sometimes life makes everything overlap. I have some experience writing lesson plans… maybe I can put together some as my daughter and I go through them ourselves.

  8. This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing:) This is something that’s been on my mind a lot recently, actually. I feel just exactly the same about this as you do.

    I was homeschooled for most of my schooling except for high school (and you know, college, lol), and I feel so strongly that it gave me a quality in my education I couldn’t have received in public/private school. It helped to foster a love of learning that I carry with me to this day. You’re giving your daughter a wonderful gift!

    I’m currently planning our first ‘official’ homeschool year for my oldest daughter. She’ll be turning 4 in a couple of months so we’ll be starting preschool this fall. I actually was looking into Oak Meadow, and I’m seriously considering it for Kindergarten. At the end of your school year, I’d love to hear your review on it:)

    • Of course. It will be nice to compare the two when the year is done. Last school-year we did Calvert’s pre-k which covered the EXACT same things as Oak Meadow’s kindergarden. So we are continuing on to the next step instead of spending a whole year recapping what we’ve already done. I feel really iffy going to 1st grade but after calling Oak Meadow, I feel a little reassured in focusing on the course work and not the grade label. Plus, if it proves too challenging (Cami always needs to be challenged) we can always slow it down. That is the true beauty of homeschooling.

      Thanks for the encouragement Lindsey!

  9. Sarah, Home schooling is the thing if you have the time???? Every thing we do is a learning experience. Even as you are doing you will find that every experience is a teaching opportunity. Make learning fun for Cami because life is just a learning process.

    I quit school in 10th grade because I was failing. Since then I have acquired ;my high school diploma, graduated auto mechanic school, taken a small engine course, have taken some college courses, computer information systems and networking.
    Then I have worked in carpentry and cabinet making and the past 2 yrs have been learning aquaponics and hugelkultur. 77 years old and still haven’t graduated.
    Don’t want to. Try to learn something new every day.


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