We’re continuing our Q&A series with one of my favorite homeschoolers. We lived in the same city for a short period and then both moved away. We have definitely kicked ourselves for not getting to know each other better when we lived right down the street. She teaches math, but she has pink hair so she’s a very interesting mix…
Coupon codes coming at the end, stay tuned…
- Introduce yourself and tell us about your family and the setup of your Homeschool.
My name is Laura Baggett. David and I have been married for 17 years, and we have two children – Nathan is 9, and Megan is 7. This is our fourth year
of homeschooling. I blog occasionally at laurabaggett.com, speak even less occasionally at homeschool conventions, and teach math online for Kaplan University. My husband and I are both from north Alabama, but after traveling a road with many twists and turns, we are currently living in Rome, Georgia, where we have aspirations of someday actually unpacking all of our boxes.
- What led your family to homeschool?
I had thought about homeschooling vaguely for a couple of years mostly because the public schools where we were living at the time had terrible test scores and we couldn’t afford to send our children to private school. My mother – a retired public school teacher – assured me that I could make sure my children still got a great education by staying very involved in their classrooms through the PTA, as a room mother, etc. Then one of my friends – who had always been very involved at her child’s school and still had many problems – pulled her daughter out to homeschool. She ended up only homeschooling for one semester, but during that time I began to seriously pray about and research homeschooling.
During the months of prayer and research, our pastor began a sermon series that covered the “highlights” of the Bible over the course of a year. The sermons were about Noah, Abraham, Moses, and so forth. While I’m quite certain this wasn’t the intended main point of any of the sermons, all I kept hearing each week was, “Come out from their midst and be separate.” I felt this was an answer to my prayer, and my husband agreed.
My son’s birthday is in late spring, so my husband and I had been discussing whether or not to “red shirt” him (hold him back a year) before beginning Kindergarten. Instead, we decided to give homeschooling a try with the thought, “If it’s a total disaster, we’ll just enroll him in Kindergarten next year, and it’ll be no big deal.”
We’ve been homeschooling ever since.
- How long does a typical day of homeschooling last for your family? Do you feel like this is too short/too long? Is this ever a worry for you?
I’m often hesitant to answer this because it feels like surely it’s too short, but the truth is that a “full” day of homeschooling usually takes about 2 ½ hours unless someone is really dragging their heels. My goal is for us to finish by lunchtime (because nothing seems to go well after that point), so we aim to begin around 9:30AM.
A perfect day – which rarely happens – would look like this: We would begin by all 3 spending some time quietly reading to ourselves. Then we would read and discuss a chapter of the Bible. Following that, they would each do book work in language arts and math. Then (3 days a week) we would listen to our history lesson for the day – I bought the MP3 version of the lessons – and Nathan would do his written work in history. Four days a week, I would read that day’s section of our science book and/or we’d fill out a part of our lap book or do some experiment. The day ends with read-aloud time from whatever book we’re working through. (Last year, we did the Little House books. This year, we’re working through The Chronicles of Narnia.)
A typical day still includes most of those same elements. If we’re running behind, the quiet reading is the first to go. If we’re REALLY running behind, history and/or science gets the axe. It’s rare, though, for us to not hit at least Bible, English, math, and read-aloud time.
- How do you handle keeping up with your work, homeschooling, and housework?
It’s a good day if I manage two out of those three. Work must be done because I like the paycheck. Homeschooling must be done because my husband and I agree that it’s a priority over the housework. Housework is a constant struggle. I’m currently in the midst of a massive decluttering, though, so I’m hoping that will, in turn, make housework less daunting. Still, we live here. As homeschoolers, we REALLY live here. All day long. So it often feels like a losing battle, but one that must be raged nonetheless.
- What is your biggest homeschooling struggle?
I’ve had people ask me the hardest part of homeschooling, and I always tell them that the actual homeschooling is the easy part. It’s the rest of the day that’s really hard. I’m a teacher by nature and by profession, and when everyone has a task to do and is actually working on it, things run fairly smoothly. But I’m also an introvert who loves quiet, so having bickering siblings constantly in the house can be very draining.
Academically-speaking, though, our biggest current struggles are Nathan’s handwriting (and just writing, in general) and Megan’s confidence. How do I motivate a 4th grade boy to want to write and to care if it’s legible? How do I keep my daughter from crumbling when she’s faced with a challenging concept?
- What is your favorite thing about homeschooling? What makes all the craziness worth it?
My two favorite parts of our homeschooling day are at the beginning and the end. I love being able to read through the Bible with my children because it so often leads to great discussions. Sometimes they’re serious (Megan and I are still trying to figure out the Trinity); sometimes they’re a bit unexpected (I had to explain circumcision last week). I never know what questions they will ask, so it keeps me on my toes and sometimes forces me to deal with verses and concepts that I might otherwise want to skip over.
Second only to that would be read-aloud time. We go upstairs to the couches in the den for that part. (Our house is a split-level, so the schoolroom/office is downstairs while the main part of the house is upstairs.) We’ve read through all kinds of great books this way. In addition to the ones I mentioned earlier, we’ve read The Hobbit, My Side of the Mountain, and A Cricket in Times Square. I must confess, though, that we also read much-less-lofty books. Once, we read through FlyLady’s Sink Reflections (a book about housekeeping). We were all more motivated to clean after that, but sadly, the effect didn’t last.
What makes it all worthwhile is being able to teach all subjects from a Biblical worldview. Science and history are obvious areas for this, but we can also talk about how the Lord relates to reading, writing, and even math. (God is a God of order. 1 + 1 = 2 because God designed it that way. He could have designed the world so that when any two items were put together a third would appear, and then 1 + 1 would equal 3.) I have the blessing of concentrated time every day getting to know the Lord, getting to know the world that He created, and getting to know my children in ways that I might otherwise not have seen. I wouldn’t trade those hours for anything.
Courses by Laura:
Learn Algebra in 10 Minutes a Day ecourse – Use coupon code NOTAVERAGE and get 75% off!!
Thank you, Laura, for letting us have a peek into your world!
If you would like to be interviewed for our homeschooling Q&A series, please send me and email so we can chat!