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Guest Blog: What It’s Like for 3 Homeschooled Kids, the Baby Doll and Their Mom

By Amanda Brandon
for HottyToddy.com

When my husband and I tell someone we homeschool my kids, we get many reactions. These vary from genuine interest to skepticism about qualifications and socialization.

My blanket response is, “We homeschool because it’s the best education choice for our family.”

Left to right: Anna Cat Brandon, 4, (PreK), Reagan Leigh Brandon, 9, (5th grade), “Cute Little Baby” (daycare in the living room) and Logan Brandon, 5, (Kindergarten).

However, it’s sometimes hard to take the alternative route.
It’s hard to watch the school bus drive by for the first few days of a new school year. It’s hard to not want to go buy those perfectly white Ked’s tennis shoes and to fill a backpack with all those supplies at Walmart.
Yet, when you look at the grand scheme of things, homeschooling can be a wonderful experience for a family. This is my seventh year to homeschool my oldest child and my first official year with my kindergartener and preschooler. I’m as excited about it as the first day we started.
The picture above is evidence of how much fun we have. In this article, I’d love to share with you what school is really like at home.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle. Every parent wants their children to be successful, yet that definition is fairly broad.
In our case, we want our kids to grow up to be thinkers and doers who take risks. We want them to be willing to try something and fail. And homeschooling allows them to do that.
It also gives them an opportunity to develop skills as well as to explore talents and interests.
At our house, school time is not just a schedule of diagramming sentences or solving complex equations. We do learn those things, but they aren’t the real focus. We teach our kids the skills of learning – reading, writing, mathematics, memorization, the scientific method, logic, and debate – so that they can be lifelong learners – reading, experimenting, observing, exploring and discussing. And that starts with Mom and Dad modeling these traits.
We do have formal lesson time, but we also do a lot of alongside-life learning:
• We make cookies and that can cover following directions (recipe) math, chemistry, fine motor skills and a discussion of why chocolate chips don’t melt away.
• We plan and make a grocery store run and that can cover making lists, budgeting, comparison shopping, etc. Our 9-year-old could do the shopping by herself.
• We travel frequently, and our kids help plan and pack. – Are we carrying on or checking luggage? Do we need winter wear? (My five-year-old is our meteorologist.) Can you carry slime on a plane (yes, you can!)?
Homeschooling is fun. As evidenced by the photo, we have an immense amount of fun. Our morning time as a one-room school house typically consists of singing a 12-minute song with 161 historical facts from memory, working on a weekly presentation for our co-op, kitchen science experiments, chalk pastel art projects, raising a praying mantis from a larva, STEM activities such as determining how many pennies a paper bridge will hold, and deep discussions about cat and dog approaches to theology.
We also bring imaginary friends like “Cute Little Baby” into the fold. She has a whole “daycare” setup in our living room while her “co-parents” homeschool in the dining room. Our school bully, “Pepper the Dog” is usually stealing someone’s pencil or chasing the cat. The narrative of a cheap, plastic baby doll and an unruly boxer dog as part of the gang will be a cherished memory for our family.
Homeschooling helps us work around non-traditional careers. My husband is an insurance adjuster and contractor. That means unpredictable schedules, lots of travel, and extended time both at and away from home.
I’ve worked as a commercial freelance writer for most of the past decade while being at home with our children. Having school be part of our home life instead of an outside institution gives us the opportunity to be together as much as possible.
Homeschooling allows us to teach through experience. Because we’ve chosen an alternative path for education and careers, we have an incredible opportunity to expose our children to the realities of running a business as well as different cultures, places, and experiences.
In the past year, we’ve taken our children to national monuments, history and science museums and cultural exhibits in Boston, Orlando, Hot Springs, Arkansas and St. Augustine, Florida. Those were just the work trips.
We were also able to take a one-month camping vacation to Colorado and several surrounding states to visit the national parks and monuments in and around Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Badlands, and the Black Hills. And “Cute Little Baby” joined us for every part of it.
The experience of exploring trails blazed by great explorers and monuments created by people of vision can’t be reproduced. This is probably our favorite part of the homeschooling lifestyle.
Homeschooling builds character. I believe that the modern homeschool is much like the homes of the past where the family worked together to survive. Our children have chores. They help cook meals. They help with renovation projects. They clean cars and bedrooms and put away laundry. After all, they will do this work themselves one day. We believe they should be prepared.
We deeply believe that our relationship with our children is the most important part of being parents. When you’re with your kids all the time, you learn as much about them as you do yourself. It’s humbling, sometimes heartbreaking work. But it’s so worth it. Homeschooling allows you time to get to the heart of a matter without the outside demands of being on someone else’s schedule.
Homeschooling allows us to drop everything to serve others. Homeschooling means that we can step in when we have a friend or family member in need of support. We’ve had several instances in the past couple of years where we were able to go spend time caring for a friend’s children after some unexpected deaths. We can hop in the car with a basket of clothes and be on call within a couple hours. No amount of book learning can replace showing up for another person in their time of deepest need.
Homeschooled kids really understand friendship. I had a hard time in school navigating the ins and outs of social circles. I never quite “fit” anywhere. That’s not true for this motley crew. They befriend anyone in their path. The friendship that they have as siblings is remarkable.
However, what’s even more remarkable is the dozens of times I’ve seen my kids organize an entire playground of kids of all backgrounds under the common theme of “fun.” That skill can’t be reproduced in a classroom. The skill of relating to people comes from going out there with a specific purpose – “let’s play.” That’s the best part of my day.
And, yes, homeschooled kids get socialized. Our kids all participate in a weekly homeschool co-op, go on field trips, and participate in at least one organized group activity each week. Our girls dance (the oldest is on a competitive dance team) and our son plays seasonal sports and may join Cub Scouts this year. There’s even a Bible study for homeschooled kids in Oxford on Wednesday morning. It takes a little coordination, but they get out of the house and have a lot of fun wherever they are.
For more of Amanda Brandon’s work, follow her blog and her Instagram account: A Work of God.


Amanda Brandon is a freelance writer and homeschooling mother and living in Water Valley, Miss., with her husband Warren and their three children. She writes on professional mothering, travel, and raising outside-box-kids at her blog, A Work of God and shares homeschooling and “Cute Little Baby” updates frequently on Instagram. She is also currently writing a book on what it takes for mothers to work at home and thrive. A graduate of the Meek School of Journalism at Ole Miss, she has worked on numerous book projects and corporate communications for niche software companies, nonprofit consultants and church communications publishers.

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