There are so many different ways homeschooling can work for individual families. Kaleidoscope strives to support each family in their homeschooling journey, and we understand there is not just one right way to achieve a well-rounded home education. In this “How we Homeschool” blog series, we will feature various homeschooling families and and give them a chance to answer some of the most common homeschooler FAQs themselves. By doing so, our goal is to help families see the variety that is available in the world of home education. This may help new homeschoolers get ideas for curriculum and the confidence to get started, as well as offer seasoned homeschoolers encouragement and inspiration to shake things up on their educational journey.
For our second installment of How we Homeschool, we talked to Amanda Knapp, who is both a Kaleidoscope parent and has been a beloved instructor for us as well!
How many kids do you have, and what are their ages?
- We homeschool 5 kids ages 7-16.
How long have you been homeschooling?
- I have been homeschooling since my oldest was 4 years old, so we are finishing our 12th year.
Is there a “type” of homeschool parent you consider yourself to be?
- Chaos, is that a schooling style? I strive to be consistent and disciplined with our homeschooling schedule, but I also always stress that people and character are more important than times tables. If we have to take time off in the middle of the week to help Grandma, then my children have learned what is most important. We will catch up later or go a little longer into the spring.
What curricula do you use currently? Do you like it, and why or why not?
- I have a modge podge. My high schoolers use Monarch online, which is easy to grade and flexible for our schedule.
- My younger kids have workbooks from CLE (LightUnits) and AOP(LifePacs). Workbooks are completed in 3 or 4 weeks so students get the feeling of accomplishment regularly. We really enjoy CLE for Reading and Language Arts. I like the character focus of the Reading stories. The Language Arts is complete, so you have handwriting, spelling, phonics, and grammar all in one place.
- Saxon Math is nice because the teaching sections are comprehensive and there are plenty of review problems. However, I take advantage of assigning evens, odds, or first 10 problems occasionally if students have a good grasp on the material, and I get to look like a benevolent leader.
What curricula have you used in the past, and what did you like and dislike?
- I liked McGruffy Math for early elementary, because it was VERY manipulative based. My kids understood math. Having to buy yearly stinks.
- My Father’s World was amazing. Kindergarten and first grade are my favorites to teach, as they are super fun and engaging. They have all subjects included, so even though the price tag is a little higher it is worth it. I wish I had stayed with it.
How do you track your children’s progress?
- Not as well as I should… Monarch keeps track of the High School grades and you can print reports from there. In elementary and Middle School it is not as important to me. I grade their work and see they are learning and making progress. I do not want to make a big deal out of grades at that level, because that is not the basis for their worth.
How does Kaleidoscope fit into your homeschooling?
- My children get to learn the things I cannot teach them (Martial Arts) or do not have time to teach them (Cooking and Sewing.) They also get to have more friends than just their siblings.
Do you have any favorite homeschooling resources you’d like to share?
- Little kids love to play on ABC Mouse. Totally worth the money!
- The library is a great and underutilized resource. Books, stem kits, reading programs, and more. My kids call the library for resources pertinent to their studies. Teaching phone etiquette–bonus!
- Middle and High Schoolers should take Personal Finance from Dave Ramsey. Don’t let your kids fall into the social norms of credit cards, student loans, and more debt. (Sorry for being on a soap box.)
What advice would you give to a parent who is just beginning his or her homeschool journey?
- It is okay! It is okay! Planning to homeschool as well as the day to day of homeschooling can seem overwhelming. Remember your core focus. Why are you homeschooling? That should drive you. Some days will be hard, but we do hard things when they are the right thing.
Why did you choose to homeschool, and how have your reasons changed over time (if at all)?
- Whenever people ask me why I homeschool my kids, I always say, “Because I like them!” I wanted to be an influence in my children’s lives, more so than a stranger who would influence them for 8 hours a day at public school. I wanted to get to know them and be part of who they developed into.
- I do not think all kids, even those from one household, are cookie cutter. We wanted to give our kids the opportunity to learn in the ways that suited them and become who God made them to be. Homeschooling facilitates that goal.
Thank you, Amanda, for sharing a bit of your family’s life with us!
If you missed our first installment of “How we Homeschool,” check it out here.