Homeschool 101

How a Public School Teacher Homeschools


After spending 7 years in the public school system, I quickly realized I didn’t agree with how we were told to teach our students. Between the scripted curriculums, the endless busy worksheets, and the lack of play/exploration, I decided I wanted different for my own children. However, our small town doesn’t offer any other educational philosophy schools like  Montessori, Forest School, Reggio, or Waldorf schools as options, so this means as my children get older I will be homeschooling them. 

Yes,  I’m a certified teacher with several years of teaching experience in everything from k-7th grades and in both general education and special education. However, we will not be doing a public school version at home which is  what my college education prepared me to do. Basically, my degree and experience really aren’t that relavent to homeschooling my children. 

Let me explain why…..

First, children are born with an innate desire to learn. I’ve seen this first hand as my own daughter has gone from the infant to active toddler stage. She is constantly exploring and learning all on her own. She doesn’t need me to motivate her to learn. 

All it takes is trust. Trust in your child’s own desire to learn. This is why we spend most of our time playing. Children learn the best through play.  It allows them to use their creativity and helps them to use trial and error when developing a new skill. Heck, it even helps them to fail and overcome it which is a crucial skill to master. 

Second, children learn when they are developmentally ready. Some children walk at 9 months and some like my daughter walk at 15 months. Each child is unique and will master tasks at different times. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is we can work at the child’s pace. This is something that public school teachers just don’t have time to do. 

Okay, so here it is….

How a Public School Teacher Homeschools my Children.

1. We play! Granted my daughter is only 16 months (at the time I am writing this). Children learn the best through play. They develop all kinds of different skills, but they also discover their interests which we will talk about next.

2. I follow their interests. My daughter really enjoys tractors right now. We spend a lot of time rolling tractors around the living room. Another 16 month old might really be into dolls. Children are all different and have different interests, so we use those interests to learn our new skills. It’s unique and personalized for each child.  

3. I set up explorations for her to explore. I hate the word lesson plans because it makes me think of objectives, standards, and everything else that’s public school. Instead, I put together one or two explorations for my daughter. This gives her an opportunity to see if she enjoys the explorations or not and exposes her to new things. In other words, expanding her background knowledge and interests. I also make sure to not take it personal when she doesn’t care for an exploration. 

*Be sure to check out my blog and Pinterest page for a ton of Exploration ideas.  

The explorations can be anything from setting up paints for finger painting, going on a nature hike at the local conservation, reading books together, visiting a museum, taking a trip to the library, or putting together a hands on science exploration like apple volcanoes. This keeps her expanding her interests, discovering who she is as a person, and exposes her to all kinds of new ideas.

4. We use themes. I already mentioned using the child’s interests to drive what we learn about. However, we also use those interests to teach all the academic skills. For example, if we are studying a child’s interest of baseball, then we are using baseball to teach reading, writing, science, history, and math. The individual subjects aren’t isolated like they are in public education. 

5. I plan to use lots of technology (more so as they get older). We will use blogs, YouTube videos, webinars, and podcasts to help them learn more about their topics of choice. This will not only give them information, but it will also help them to think critically about the information and whether or not it’s truly accurate. When they get older, we will also create their own blogs, podcasts, videos, etc about their interests. I believe this is crucial for them to be successful in the world they  will live in as adults. 

6. Finally, we explore and venture to new places. Traveling and meeting new people help them to not only discover new places, but it helps them to expand their world view, discover more about themselves, and helps them to develop empathy and tolerance. I make a point to visit our big cities as much as possible and visit new places in those cities. 

These are just a few ways that I homeschool or will homeschool my own children. Trust in your children and let them guide you on this adventure if you choose to homeschool. I hope you found this info helpful. If homeschooling isn’t an option or not something you want to do, you can still support your kiddos with these skills while they are home with you no matter what type of school they maybe enrolled in. Be sure to watch for more blogs on how we do exactly this with my stepson who is enrolled in public school. 

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Melissa Dow

I’m Melissa Dow, M.ED. I am a wife, mama of 2 and a bonus mama of 1. A former public school educator with 7 years of experience in both special education and general education who is on a new journey to help parents guide their children to uncover their true passions in order to find their life purpose. I love spending time out in nature whether hiking, running, camping, canoeing or just playing in our backyard (aka our outdoor classroom). I also enjoy reading, learning new things, organic gardening and creating our a simple life.

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  1. Meredith

    Girl, you nailed it! I love all the freedom and fun we have in homeschooling (my boys are 2.5 and 15 months). We do morning time during breakfast, but then it’s pretty much a day of play or whatever else will keep them occupied 😉 I’m looking forward to the day when they’re a little older and we can do more in the way of field trips and experiments…cannot wait!

    15 . 12 . 2016
  2. Kathy

    Exploration and play are so important to learning in any environment. Thank you for sharing!

    16 . 12 . 2016
  3. The Sanity Plan

    I would send my kids to your homeschool. I really wish I had the temperament to do this for my children.

    16 . 12 . 2016
  4. simplemountainmama

    I love this post! This sums up everything I plan to do with my daughter (21 months). I have a similar background to you – M.Ed, former public school teacher in elementary and special education, and after working in public schools for years, I don’t want that same experience for my daughter. I’ll be following along – I can’t wait to see where your homeschooling journey takes you.

    02 . 01 . 2017
  5. Therusticfive

    Awww thanks! I’m always glad to meet someone who feels the same way especially another former teacher. Good luck on journey. Be sure to let me know how it’s going. 🙂

    03 . 01 . 2017

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